Hancher is a beloved icon of Iowa City culture, originally built in 1972. The original auditorium was destroyed by the massive flood of 2008 and the new, gorgeous, state-of-the-art building opened in 2016. The new building is simply incredible and is now home to a variety of performances: lectures, theater, musicals, music concerts, dance, circus, and more.
But did you know that Hancher is also the perfect place to grab drinks with a friend or enjoy a casual date night?
Look no further than Stanley Café, which is located on the second level of Hancher just up the stairs as you enter the front doors. The cafe and its bar always open two hours prior to Hancher performances, but it’s also open every Thursday in May and June from 5:00-7:30 p.m. regardless if there is a performance scheduled! It offers a casual opportunity to enjoy great food and beverages in the ambiance of Hancher. You can relax on the beautiful patio overlooking campus and the nearby river or grab a table inside to soak up the spectacular atmosphere indoors. The Hancher Showcase is open for Thursday Nights at Hancher, and guided tours of Hancher are occasionally given as well. Please check the tour schedule.
I had no idea the café existed, so I jumped at the opportunity to check it out on behalf of ICMB with a fellow mom-friend! Neither of us had previously had the opportunity to visit the café, so we didn’t really know what to expect.
Finding Your Way
Due to the ongoing Gateway Project, the Park Road Bridge is currently closed, so give yourself a little extra time if you’re coming in on Dubuque Street. Detours are in place so don’t fret–you can still get to Hancher! Once you arrive, parking is a breeze! Complimentary parking is available in the south side parking lot (Lot 55). As you come up the stairs and enter the café area, you can walk to the right and place your food and beverage order at the counter/bar.
The overall vibe was really great, and we noticed many professors/faculty/staff meeting up for drinks at the end of the work day. And while there is no dress code, most people were dressed in business casual attire, having come directly from work. We were dressed casually and were totally comfortable in that, too. There didn’t seem to be many students, even though we were on campus, and overall, the crowd level was very low.
If you order food, you’ll be given a number to take to a table, and your food will be brought out to you. We grabbed a table right by the window and had the ideal amount of privacy to enjoy great conversation. We started with the Charcuterie Board, and the star of the plate was the Boursin Cheese mixed with the raspberry jam! Then we split the sandwich of the day, which happened to be a House-Made Curried Chicken Salad Sandwich on a croissant and was served with choice of one side (we chose the White Truffle Oil Lattice Chips). The curry flavor was just right and made for a unique twist on a chicken salad sandwich.
Drinks and Dessert
We also both had a glass of wine. And a café visit isn’t complete without a sweet treat! We tried the Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal cookie, and it’s definitely worth a trip to Hancher. The price point is slightly higher than most other cafes in the area, but the atmosphere is far superior and it’s fantastic way to enjoy Hancher on a budget. Check out the Thursday Nights at Hancher menu to see all available food/beverage options.
Overall, it was an enjoyable evening! As two moms, it was nice to have a relatively quiet, comfortable, and bright place to enjoy some food, wine, and uninterrupted conversation! While the menu is on the smaller side, the items we tried were delicious and were brought out quickly. If you’re looking for a new place to try with your mom friends, spouse, or just on your own (it would also be a great place to read or get some work done), check out Thursday Nights at Hancher for a low-key, enjoyable experience this summer.
If you’ve been to the Stanley Café for Thursday Nights at Hancher, tell us about your experience in the comments below!
This is a sponsored post. ICMB was compensated for sharing this piece. However, we love connecting our readers with businesses and organizations that are enriching our community, and we think you will find this information helpful and informative!