Students walk past Dumpling Darling on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021, in downtown Iowa City. The restaurant announced it will be closing its doors. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

IOWA CITY — A restaurant with roots both in Iowa City and Cedar Rapids will be closing its doors soon.

Dumpling Darling, 213 Iowa Ave., announced this week its last day of business will be Dec. 19, 2021.

Founder Lesley Rish started selling Asian-style steamed dumplings at the Iowa City Farmers Market in 2014 after discovering dumplings while teaching English in South Korea. She opened Dumpling Darling at NewBo City Market in Cedar Rapids the following year, before opening a restaurant in Iowa City. Dumpling Darling has been at its Iowa Avenue location since 2017 and is now co-owned by Rish and Veronica Tessler.

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In its final days, Dumpling Darling is trying to keep up with customer demand, even as University of Iowa students leave Iowa City for winter break.

A sign notes the challenges Dumpling Darling faces in its final days. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Owners posted the following message on Facebook:

“Dear Customers & Friends,
This week we made the incredibly difficult decision to close our restaurant. Our last day of operation will be Sunday, December 19.
As many of you know, it has been a rough couple of years for the restaurant industry. Between the product shortages, labor shortages, the overall rising costs of doing business in the era of Covid, and general uncertainty of the economy, we have faced a great deal of challenges. Our workers have faced a great number of obstacles as well. Given these costs and challenges, we are afraid we cannot afford to serve you the same quality of food and service that we used to.
This decision wasn’t an easy one but we know deep down it is the right thing. Operating under these current circumstances isn’t serving our staff, our customers, or ourselves.
We’ve come a long way since our little stand at the Iowa City farmers market in 2014. We know that for a lot of you, Dumpling Darling was your first time ever having dumplings. We are humbled to have been able to introduce you to our version of this food that we love so much.
To all of the DD staff past and present, thank you for being part of the wild ride. We wouldn’t have gotten this far without you.
To all of our loyal customers who have supported us over the years and shown us kindness and patience during these difficult times, we love you and we thank you.
To all of our fellow local business owners, we see you and we hope you keep fighting the good fight. We will continue supporting your establishments often.
Please come see us for a final dumpling fix in the coming days and redeem those gift cards. We would love to see you.
It’s not goodbye forever, but it’s goodbye for now. Maybe we will be seeing you again one day in a different format.
The best way to get in touch with us with us is via email at
Thanks for the memories, Iowa City.”

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Dumpling Darling announced its last day in Iowa City will be Dec. 19, 2021. (photo/Cindy Hadish)