A Hyper Energy Bar is proposed at 3737 Woodland Ave. in West Des Moines. The drive-thru and walk-up shop would be located north of Valley High School and near office buildings. Business Record file rendering

Plans to begin developing drive-thru and walk-up energy drink retail stores were underway by Heart of America Group when the outbreak of the novel coronavirus occurred.

For the Heart of America Group, which owns and operates restaurants like the Machine Shed, Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse and Burger Shed as well as numerous hotels, the pandemic meant accelerating plans to open its Hyper Energy Bars, Ajay Singh, vice president of brand development, said today during a meeting with West Des Moines officials.

The group has gained approvals to open Hyper Energy Bars, small kiosk-like buildings with drive-thru windows on two sides and a walk-up window in front, in Grimes and Waukee in July and August. A third would be located at 3737 Woodland Ave. in West Des Moines if the city’s zoning for the parcel were changed.

Zoning on the land where the free-standing building would be placed currently allows development of professional commerce parks that include some support businesses such as dry cleaners or fitness centers, Lynne Twedt, West Des Moines’ director of development services, told the City Council’s planning and development subcommittee.

“It’s basically those things that maybe an office worker during the day or on their way to or from work would want to patronize,” Twedt said. Professional commerce park zoning does not allow drive-thru establishments, she said.

Options exist to allow the drive-thru to be placed on the parcel, Twedt said. The city could change the professional commerce park designation to allow drive-thrus or it could establish a planned unit development designation that allows drive-thrus on just the parcel proposed for the Hyper Energy Bar.

Council member Renee Hardman asked the developers why they chose the location at 3737 Woodland Ave. for the energy bar. Singh said the group had originally hoped to put the establishment north of Interstate Highway 235 but couldn’t find a site that either wasn’t near other coffee shops or that didn’t have development-related restrictions.

Both council member Matt McKinney and Hardman said they were supportive of finding a way to allow the proposed development to move forward.

“I think our community would welcome it with open arms,” Hardman said.

The proposed West Des Moines Hyper Energy Bar would open in September, if all the necessary city approvals were in place, Singh said. The shop, which would be on a parcel north of Valley High School, would likely operate from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. most days, he said.

The restaurant and hotel group, based in the Quad Cities, began developing the Hyper Energy Bar concept more than three years ago, Singh said. The pandemic “really caused us to reflect and to pivot and say, ‘What other alternatives should we be considering as we move forward?'"

Coffee bars and shops are easy to find because there are so many of them, he said. “We want to differentiate [our product] from others. The reality is that people get coffee in the morning because they want to get energized. Hence the name ‘energy bar.’”

Hyper Energy Bar will offer blended smoothies, coffees and energy-based drinks, Singh said.

The small kiosk-like buildings are built in Atlanta and shipped to sites on which the stores will be placed.

“It’s not a mobile home; it’s very well architected,” Singh said.