Graduate achieves dream: The Hangry Lady

“I love bringing joy to others with my food, so with that being said never hesitate to contact me…” –Allie LanhamOwner, The Hangry Lady

Dreams can come true, just ask Kirkwood Community College graduate and owner of The Hangry Lady restaurant Allie Lanham. 

At Kirkwood, Lanham earned her two-year AS Degree in Dietetics, then entered the Culinary Arts Program and earned her Culinary Degree in 2019. 

Lanham said, “While in high school, I lost 60 pounds. Everything I learned from that journey lead me to finding my passion – food and health.”  

While in culinary school Lanham said she participated in multiple competitions. “I was a part of the competition team, which won first place at the Riverside Culinary Classic and second place at the Iowa Pork Producers Competition. I also was the first receiver of the Chef Basil’s Culinary Scholarship,” she said.  

Other achievements include being named as one of the 40 Women to Watch by the Iowa Restaurant Association and making it on the cover of the Fall 2019 edition of Current magazine. 

Although she started her culinary career working for a local restaurant, Lanham said her goal was to open her own place. “While working as the Executive Chef at Popoli for six months, I thought of the name The Hangry Lady and dreamed of opening my own business one day. So, when Popoli closed, I decided to conquer my fears and just do it, with a determination to provide my community with good food, that’s good for you,” she said. 

And so, in June 2021, The Hangry Lady opened in NewBo City Market in Cedar Rapids. Then on Sept. 27, 2023, Lanham opened a new location at 1101 Third St. SE, which is just across the street from the old location. It’s her first move into a stand-alone brick-and-mortar shop. 

Lanham said she designed the interior of the restaurant. “It’s very much my style. It’s a collective maximalist so it’s very colorful, all of my paintings are hanging on the walls. My dad is an electrician, so he made all of the light fixtures in here out of pasta strainers, fruit bowls and wicker baskets. Even the floating shelves are made out of butcher’s block that we got from Habitat for Humanity, so it’s really a hodge podge of things, DIY you could say, the only original thing to the building is the ceiling,” she said. 

Lanham said for now, she has reached her goal. “This goal right now that I’m at was something I didn’t think would happen for a long time, so I kind of need a minute to settle into the coolness of being where I’m at already, before I think about making new goals,” she said.  

Despite being busy operating her own business, Lanham is still involved at Kirkwood. She said, “I’m on the board of Kirkwood’s Hospitality Program, so I’m one of the alumni representatives and it meets twice a year. We get together and have a meeting with other board members throughout the state and we just talk about the current environment of the hospitality arts culinary world so that the students graduating have a better idea of what to expect and what options are out there. We’re helping Kirkwood navigate what they can do better to send out better students into the workforce.”

Lanham said, she is available to connect with students and the community. “I love bringing joy to others with my food, so with that being said never hesitate to contact me, big or small, healthy or not, The Hangry Lady’s got you covered!”

Categories: Feature