If you can build a professional baseball field in an Iowa cornfield and attract thousands of people, then you should be able to open a pub and restaurant in Dolliver, right?
That's exactly what Drew Dietrich did when he opened Bootleggers Pub & Grub in Dolliver Dec. 16.
Bootleggers employees include Jean Radunz, Maci LaPlant, Dave Brashear and owner Drew Dietrich. Not pictured are Raleah Held, Michael Dietrich and Kim and Jason Manley.
EDN photo by Michael Tidemann
And how busy has he been?
Well, real busy.
Dietrich, along with his cousin, cook and web designer Jean Radunz of Maple Hill; Maci LaPlant, waitress, dishwasher and custodian; Dave Brashear, bartender who was invaluable in the remodeling; Raleah Held, waitress; and husband-and-wife team, Kim and Jason Manley of Armstrong, waitress and bartender respectively, are seeing customers from all over. All over includes Jackson and Mankato in Minnesota and Buffalo Center, Emmetsburg and Estherville in Iowa. Estherville customers just sort of naturally filtered over from Bud's Cafe which Dietrich and his wife, Diane, own at 123 N. Sixth St. in Estherville.
There's probably a number of reasons they're busy. Besides the friendly service, there's a very unique down-home atmosphere. For the remodeling, Dietrich lucked onto a barn in the process of being demolished a mile and a half west of Tuttle Lake and was given salvage rights. The beams went for footrests and table supports while the boards became paneling. Dietrich figures 65 percent of the remodeling was done with reclaimed lumber.
Dietrich and Brashear performed something of a miracle, if you really want to know the truth. They transformed the circa 1904 building that had been empty for about 12 years into a veritable museum, complete with antique punchboard (still unpunched), advertising signs and even a jackalope on the wall. Originally a pharmacy, the building went through two owners as a restaurant - Don and Marge Sherling and Dale Frerichs.
"This was an idea of wanting to do something on my own," Dietrich said.
Admittedly, there were days when Dietrich asked himself why was he doing this - remodeling a restaurant in a town the size of Dolliver.
So why did he?
Well, it's out of the way enough that it's in the middle of everything.
Dietrich hopes to tap into traffic from Tuttle Lake campground and motorcycle rides in the summer - a time that should prove to be busier than it is now.
Another thing that's helped is the menu.
As a Baltimore native with Algona ties, Dietrich grew up on clam chowder and Chesapeake blue point crabs. So he really knows seafood. And you'll find plenty of it on the menu, including offerings like Maryland steamed shrimp; popcorn shrimp; and a seafood basket brimming with flounder, shrimp and scallops.
That isn't all, though. There's pizzas aplenty, along with nightly meal specials and tasty appetizers like hot wings, cheese balls, jalapeno poppers, cauliflower or the tavern mix which includes waffle fries, onion rings, cheese balls, poppers, mozzarella sticks and mushrooms.
Once you're done eating, there's motorcycle art for sale too, and free popcorn and peanuts to go along with those cold ones. There's also a full liquor department along with beer and snacks, in addition to off-sale beer.
Come summer, Dietrich is considering a bean bag horseshoe and grill-your-own steak night outside.
So just how busy has it been?
"It's been really busy," said Dietrich. "It's been crazy."
"He had a huge line last night - in Dolliver, Iowa," said Radunz. "Every weekend just beats the weekend before."
Hours are 3 p.m. until close from Monday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to close Friday through Sunday. Takeout is available by calling (712) 865-2011.
Bootleggers is holding a chili cookoff Saturday, Jan. 21 starting at 11 a.m. with judging at 3 p.m. Again, call (712) 865-2011 for contest information or for orders to go.