Biz Buzz: Dubuque event center rebrands; gun shop opens; restaurant changes hands

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Biz Buzz shares business tidbits from the tri-states. In this edition, we highlight developments in Dubuque and Elkader, Iowa, and Galena, Ill.

A Dubuque event center has rebranded, focusing on one of its most popular features.

Wedding and event venue The Driftless, 168 E. 10th St., now is operating as The Magnolia.

Since The Driftless opened in 2019, its Magnolia Room has become the venue’s most well-known feature. The white marble and brick reception space boasts high ceilings, delicate chandeliers and large windows.

“We had really gotten a lot of attention for our Magnolia Room, which is where ceremonies happen,” said Brittany Carney, director of operations. “It’s this big, extravagant, beautiful place, and so we really decided to go with that and make it our identity.”

The event center also includes B-Spoke Bar & Restaurant and the Champagne Loft, an Airbnb rental and wedding suite.

With the name change comes a slight shift in the The Magnolia’s offerings, Carney said. Previously, the venue’s bar had been open to the public on certain evenings, featuring food, drinks and live performances.

Now, The Magnolia will operate solely as an event center for weddings, baby showers, birthday parties, corporate parties and other gatherings.

“We’ve really closed the chapter on having an open bar to the public and are focusing on being a full event center,” Carney said.

The COVID-19 pandemic initially dealt a blow to event centers such as The Magnolia, but 2021 saw the venue “bounce back really nicely,” according to Carney, and staff members look forward to a similarly busy season in 2022.

“We have a couple sporadic openings throughout this summer, a weekend here and there, but September and October are completely packed solid,” Carney said. “Even going out into 2023, those popular months have already started to go.”

The Magnolia can be reached at 608-644-6489 or

Gun shop opens in Elkader

A Clayton County, Iowa, resident hopes to provide quality products and information at his recently opened gun shop in Elkader.

Garett Hamilton opened Highland Arms at 125 S. Main St. in December. After operating his business out of his home in rural Elgin, Iowa, since 2020, he is enjoying the expanded space and increased foot traffic the new location offers.

“Everybody that’s been in has been real happy to see it in town,” he said.

At Highland Arms, customers can buy, sell and trade firearms, ammunition, accessories and targets. Hamilton also offers gunsmithing services.

Hunting and recreational shooting long have been a part of Hamilton’s life, stemming from his childhood on a farm near Independence, Iowa. He enjoys sharing his love of the sport and teaching others, which inspired his decision to open Highland Arms.

“I figured now is the time to give it a shot, no pun intended,” he said with a chuckle.

In the coming months, Hamilton hopes to begin selling hunting licenses and offering concealed carry classes through Highland Arms. He also said he is happy to share advice or answer questions regarding gun safety and gun laws.

“I just want to make it easier for everybody to get what they need, whether that’s the bullets, the gun, some knowledge or a connection,” he said.

Highland Arms is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, with hours extended to 7 p.m. on Thursday, and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. The business can be reached at 563-245-2767.

Galena restaurant changes hands

More than two decades ago, Laura Hefel took a leap from employee to owner of The Market House restaurant in Galena.

Now, as she retires, Hefel will pass the torch to another longtime employee, Mercedes Hernandez, and allow her to do the same.

The Market House, 204 Perry St., was established in 1982. Hefel started working there in 1989, and in 1998, she purchased the business.

“I figured if I worked there and I had been working for somebody else, why not work for myself?” she said.

For the next 23 years, Hefel took pride in serving up The Market House’s menu, which she described as “Midwestern comfort food.” Customers devoured the restaurant’s chicken puffed pastry, goulash, mac and cheese, meatloaf and more.

Her favorite part of the job was the close bond she formed with her clientele, whom she said she grew to love like family.

“You get to watch customers have babies, and you get to watch the babies go from infancy to booster seats to teenage years to adults on their own,” she said. “There were some that I would even go to their house for Thanksgiving or Christmas. I really got attached to them.”

As she started to consider retirement, those connections with her customers meant Hefel “couldn’t let go” of The Market House at first.

In recent years, however, the loss of some older customers dealt an emotional blow. The physical demands of the job also contributed to her decision to pass the reins to Hernandez, who has worked at The Market House for 13 years.

Hernandez will operate the restaurant with her husband, Sergio Perez, and their friend Octavio Martinez.

“We are happy, but at the same time, it is a bit of an increased responsibility to keep the customers happy,” Hernandez said.

The three plan to keep the restaurant’s menu very similar as they assume ownership. In the future, Hernandez said they hope to add breakfast options.

The Market House is closed during the transition but will reopen in the coming weeks. The restaurant will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday; from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.

For more information, call 815-777-0690 or visit