Click on the screen image to see what Zora, a new bar-restaurant under construction at 2120 Ingersoll Ave., will look like in the evening. Below is a rendering of the two-story structure. Watch videoArchitectural rendering by Simonson & Associates

 Ed Allen began planning for a new bar and restaurant along Des Moines’ Ingersoll Avenue last March just as the coronavirus began rapidly spreading across the country.

The pandemic, though, didn’t derail Allen’s plans.

“It actually motivated me, if anything,” said Allen, a lifelong Des Moines resident and Roosevelt High School graduate. Zora, an establishment that will be located at 2120 Ingersoll Ave., is expected to open in March 2021 “at the very beginning stages of people going back out. 

"We want to be part of the resurgence.”

Work has begun at the site including installation of footings and construction of a new retaining wall. Metal framing is expected to arrive early next week when workers will begin putting up the building’s shell. When completed, the two-story, 6,000-square-foot structure will include a rooftop patio that will be lit in the evening.

Allen said he did numerous studies to determine whether the property, which previously was home to Flanigan’s bar, was a good location for a bar and restaurant. 

“We measured rooftops, we did traffic counts,” he said. “It appeared to be a property that had all the elements for that type of industry to succeed.”


In May, Allen bought the property for $450,000, Polk County real estate records show. 

Earlier this year, the city of Des Moines began a three-year project to beautify and repair a one-mile stretch of Ingersoll Avenue, between Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway and 31st Street. The $17 million project includes the reconstruction of the roadway, new storm sewers, the burying of overhead utilities, widened sidewalks, upgraded bus stops, new pedestrian crossings, elevated bike lanes and landscaping.

Allen said the city’s investment in the area prompted him to make an investment as well. “If the city hadn’t made the streetscape improvements, I probably would not be doing this project,” he said.

Zora will have a full-service kitchen with an emphasis on serving American-style foods such hamburgers.

“It’s not fine dining,” Allen said. “We’re a bar-restaurant, not a restaurant-bar.”

During the noon hour during the workweek, Zora is expected to cater to area workers, including those downtown. In the evenings, it will likely draw 20- to 30-year-olds, Allen said.

“We expect the after 10 p.m. crowd will mostly be a lot of 20-somethings,” he said.