Biz Buzz: Comedy lounge opens in Dubuque; engraving business moves to Dyersville; Galena pub adds food truck

Business tips sought

Do you have an interesting story idea or news tip to share about a local business? Ideas can be shared with business reporter Grace Nieland at or 563-588-5647.

Biz Buzz shares business tidbits from across the tri-states. This edition highlights developments in Dubuque; Dyersville, Iowa; and Galena, Ill.

A new comedy venue has opened in Dubuque’s Historic Millwork District.

The Jester’s Lounge recently opened in the former Comedy Bar space in the Novelty Iron Works Building at 333 E. 10th St. The lounge includes a bar, stage and seating area large enough to host a variety of live performances throughout the week.

“When people come into the lounge, I want them to feel like they’re at their favorite neighborhood bar, but I also want them to be able to see some good, quality entertainment,” said owner John Ohnesorge.

The Jester’s Lounge space previously housed the Comedy Bar, which hosted a variety of comedic acts before its closure this spring. Ohnesorge said the closure left a gap in the local comedy scene that he couldn’t let stand.

The setup of the lounge has stayed fairly similar since he assumed ownership, but Ohnesorge said he added some additional variety behind the bar and on the stage.

The space will be a dedicated comedy venue Wednesday through Saturday, he said, with the remainder of the week left open for a rotating mix of trivia, karaoke and more. Offerings at the bar also have expanded to include a variety of beer, spirits and cocktails.

“The last place only opened for comedy, and it wasn’t always super consistent,” Ohnesorge said. “Here, we’re going to have those (comedy) shows, but we’ll also have a full bar and a few other options there to mix it up.”

Ohnesorge also owns Top Billing Entertainment and books comedians, bands and other performers at various venues. He said those connections should come in handy when it comes to booking the best performers for Jester’s Lounge.

“I’ve got some tricks up my sleeve and some comedians set up that I’m really excited to share with people,” Ohnesorge said. “Big comedians aren’t afraid of small rooms because that’s where a lot of them started, and a lot of them are itching to come back.”

The venue is open 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Tuesday, 4 p.m. to midnight Wednesday and Thursday and 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Information about upcoming shows and offerings can be found online at

Custom engraving business opens in Dyersville

A new custom engraving business has opened in Dyersville.

LEAD Custom Engraving recently opened at 1235 16th Ave. SE. The business previously operated as Cass Laser Engraving in Independence, Iowa, but new owners Austin Zuercher and Drew Wilgenbusch relocated the operation to Dyersville this summer.

“We liked the idea that people could get these custom products locally,” Wilgenbusch said. “Our focus is really on helping out people and businesses in the Dyersville area, but we’re set up to take on customers across the U.S.”

LEAD Custom Engraving offers custom laser engraving services for a variety of personal and professional projects. The store specializes in customized tumblers and mugs, though it is equipped to engrave a variety of materials ranging from metal and glass to wood or leather.

There is no minimum order size, meaning individual customers can stop by to have one item engraved as a personalized gift or keepsake. The business also can handle larger orders for commercial clients looking to stock up on personalized merchandise or other materials.

“We do orders of all sizes,” Wilgenbusch said. “We do big orders, small orders. We just want people to walk away with something special that they’ll remember.”

The best way to contact LEAD Custom Engraving is online at or via the LEAD Custom Engraving Facebook page. Customers also can stop by the storefront, though it might not be staffed without advance notice.

Galena pub adds mobile kitchen

A popular Galena pub is hitting the road with the addition of a new food truck.

Frank O’Dowd’s Irish Pub & Grill, located in Irish Cottage Inn & Suites at 9853 U.S. 20 W., recently unveiled its new food truck — a mobile culinary operation set up for remote catering, festivals and other events.

“We’ve tried to make a menu with some unique street food options that have Irish flair,” said food and beverage director Joshua Roberts. “The truck lets us get out and about and really increases those opportunities for community engagement.”

Roberts said the truck offers a variety of authentic Irish cuisine, as well as various grab-and-go classics with an Irish twist. The menu includes restaurant favorites such as fish and chips and corned beef, as well as dishes such as fish tacos made with Guinness-battered cod.

The truck will attend public gatherings regularly, but it also can be rented for private events such as weddings or other large gatherings. The truck first hit the streets in June, though Roberts said plans to add a mobile operation have been in the works for months.

“We wanted to get into remote catering, and festivals and wedding receptions are kind of our two big goals,” he said. “We wanted to bring our food out to the community for people who might never have been to the pub itself.”

Irish Cottage Inn & Suites opened over 20 years ago under the ownership of two cousins who immigrated to the U.S. from Ireland. The inn and the adjoining pub since have changed hands, but Roberts said staff still work to ensure guests have an authentic Irish experience.

Those efforts also carry over to the food truck, he said, which has a focus on offering Irish classics without marketing gimmicks such as four-leaf clovers or leprechauns.

“There’s a very strong Irish and Irish-American culture here in the Midwest,” Roberts said. “We wanted to offer something that leaned into that and showed … Irish culture outside of St. Patrick’s Day.”

Updates on the food truck’s location and schedule will be posted on the Frank O’Dowd’s Irish Pub social media pages, and more information is available at Information on private bookings can be obtained by calling 815-776-0707.