Des Moines' HoQ Restaurant Rebounds from COVID-19 Shutdown
Suman Hoque is a pioneer in Des Moines’ farm to table restaurant scene. His popular East Village restaurant, HoQ, established eight years ago, sources approximately 90 percent of its ingredients from local Iowa farms. Hoque believes the best meals begin with the best ingredients. The restaurant features grass-fed beef and lamb, and pasture-raised chicken and duck - all raised without the use of hormones, antibiotics, steroids or cages. Even its butter and cream come from grass-fed cows, the seafood is sustainably sourced from responsible fishing communities and the produce is chemical-free and organic. The majority of HOQ’s menu is gluten-free with many unique vegetarian items. Not to be outdone, the restaurant also purchases fair trade and locally roasted coffee and house liquors from right here in Iowa.
A native of Bangladesh, Hoque relocated to India to study computer science when he was 15. It did not take long to realize it wasn’t his calling. His love of food inspired him to attend culinary school in Geneva, Switzerland. He then worked in restaurants in Europe before bringing his vision to America. Hoque first honed his culinary skills in Vail, Jackson Hole and Lancaster, Pa., before relocating to Des Moines with Cynthia, his wife and business partner, who practices medicine locally.
The Iowa restaurant industry was especially hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Forced to close due to mandatory shutdowns, Hoque shifted to take out meals, but the revenue is minimal compared to normal full-service operations. The restaurateur benefited from the SBA making six months of payments on his existing SBA 7(a) loan through Northwest Bank. An SBA-backed PPP loan through the bank enables Hoque to bring back his nine employees and cover the restaurant’s payroll, rent and utilities during the shutdown. Thanks to the support, HoQ is preparing to re-open to its customers’ culinary delight.