After weeks of speculation and rumors that Centro’s downtown Davenport restaurant would close, representatives confirmed Wednesday that the eatery would shut down Dec. 31.

But a new restaurant is slated to take over the site on Second Street, according to River Music Experience, or RME, the non-profit organization that owns portions of the Redstone Building, where Centro is located.

RME said in a news release that Redstone Woodfire Grill, an independent owner-operator concept restaurant, will open in the 10,500-square-foot space sometime in January after some minor revisions. Woodfire Grill, owned by Toby Christianson, will offer, according to the news release, “an upscale casual dining experience with a hip urban ambience.”

The news release stated that RME and the Centro owners “worked together to make the transition to the Woodfire Grill a positive experience for patrons as well as employees. The intent is to retain as many of the Centro employees as possible.”

“This is a dream opportunity in a dream facility to create an experience that is inviting and comfortable for a broad cross section of a people,” said Christianson, developer of the Depot Crossing in Grinnell, Iowa, and the Button Factory restaurant in Muscatine, Iowa.

“We’re pleased to find an operator with Toby’s track record for successful independent niche restaurants for the Redstone,” said Curtis Beason, chairman of the RME.

Centro opened in June 2004 with owners investing $1.5 million in the renovation and construction in the  Redstone Building, which once housed the flagship store of the Von Maur department store chain. The same owners had opened the first Centro in Des Moines in 2002.

“We believe in the potential of the Redstone, and have enjoyed being part of the community,” said Paul Rottenberg, owner of Centro. “The restaurant has a lot of loyal patrons, and we believe the Woodfire Grill will pick up where we’ve left off in terms of creating a great urban dining experience for the entire community.”

Both Beason and Rottenberg acknowledged that rumors were rampant for months about the future of the restaurant.

Beason said Wednesday that while both sides were renegotiating the lease, which expired Aug. 31, “we wanted to maintain a level of economics. There were economic issues,” although he said the RME was not seeking a rent increase from Centro. But sometime in July, both sides began trying to find a new tenant.

Rottenberg said money never was an issue.

“It wasn’t so much a disagreement over terms,” he said. “The lease was up. We made a decision that we wanted to concentrate on Des Moines.”

Because of Centro’s commitment to the Quad-City area, he said its operators wanted to help find another tenant. But it didn’t happen right away. “There was a point this summer when it seemed like it might not come together.”

The new menu includes items such as hickory grilled sirloin meatloaf, wild bourbon salmon, flatbread wood-fired pizzas, filet medallion trios, strawberry spinach salad and a variety of homemade soups, salads and gourmet sandwiches. Also planned are rotating exhibits of paintings, sculpture and other artwork from local artists.

Doug Schorpp can be contacted at (563) 383-2292 or Comment on this story at


What’s changed: Centro, which has occupied a first-floor space in the Redstone Building in downtown Davenport since 2004, will close Dec. 31.

What’s new: Redstone Woodfire Grill, which will offer “an upscale casual dining experience,” is slated to open in January.

What about those gift

certificates: Centro representatives said there are about $10,000 worth of Centro gift certificates that have not been redeemed. They said customers can redeem them up until Dec. 31 at the Davenport location. After that, customers must use them at the Des Moines restaurant.