Biz Buzz: Fincel’s opens at new Dubuque site; brewery to have river view; local business leaders get national exposure

Fincel’s Sweet Corn opened for business on Saturday, offering a selection of flowers and garden products in the former Shopko parking lot in Dubuque. As the season progresses, more products will be added. PHOTO CREDIT: Dave Kettering

Biz Buzz shares business tidbits from around the tri-states each Monday. This week, we highlight developments in Bellevue, Dubuque and Maquoketa, Iowa.

A family-owned business famous for its locally grown produce recently opened for the season in a new Dubuque location.

Fincel’s Sweet Corn on Saturday unveiled a new stand outside the former Shopko building at 255 John F. Kennedy Road.

Frank Fincel said the stand is selling asparagus, hanging flower baskets, bedding plants and vegetable plants. As the spring season progresses, it will add strawberries, green beans and a variety of other items.

The opening of Fincel’s

is a familiar sign that warmer weather is arriving. The spread of COVID-19, however, could make this an atypical year.

“We’re usually very busy when we first open for the spring,” Fincel said. “I am hoping that will be the case this year, but I don’t know what to expect.”

Fincel said he explored multiple potential sites where he could open a stand this spring. He ultimately determined that the former Shopko property fit the bill.

Fincel is eager to bring some activity to the location, which has been relatively quiet since Shopko closed in early 2019.

The stand will be open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily and eventually extend its hours to 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The stand will be staffed by Fincel and his family members, who will be mindful of safety as they conduct business.

“We have leased a big open space in the parking lot that will allow us to practice safe distancing,” Fincel said. “And we’ll be all suited up with masks and gloves on.”

In previous years, Fincel’s Sweet Corn has operated stands outside of the Blain’s Farm and Fleet location and the Plaza 20 shopping center in Dubuque. Fincel plans to open the stand outside Blain’s Farm & Fleet later in the year and could resume operations at Plaza 20, as well.

NEW LOCATION

With the upcoming opening of a new, riverside location, a Bellevue brewery will live up to its name.

Crews have started renovations on the future home of River Ridge Brewing. Co-owner Kelly Hueneke said the new location at 301 S. Riverview St. likely will open this summer.

With a patio that puts customers right next to the water, the new location will offer an up-close view of the Mississippi River.

“We are in a river town and have a brewery called River Ridge,” Hueneke said. “It seemed fitting for us to have a location by the water.”

The brewery opened at 118 N. Riverview Drive in September 2016. Hueneke and her husband, Nick, were among the brewery’s co-founders. Local resident Nicolas Hockenberry and his wife, Allison Simpson, now round out the ownership group.

In the past few months, crews have built a new bar at 301 S. Riverview St. and gutted the lower level of the property. They have poured new floors and installed new electrical and plumbing systems.

River Ridge Brewing will continue operating out of its original location until the new one is ready to open.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the taproom at River Ridge Brewing has been closed since mid-March. However, Hueneke said the company still is brewing beer at that location and conducting sales via curbside pickup, an option that has produced surprisingly strong sales.

“The community has been really supportive,” Hueneke said.

NATIONWIDE ATTENTION

A trio of local businesses appeared in a recent cable news piece detailing the economic impacts of COVID-19.

A crew from CNN paid a visit to Graham’s Style Store for Men & Women in downtown Dubuque on Tuesday afternoon. A portion of the interview with owner Ben Graham aired the following day.

In the clip, Graham discusses how coronavirus fears decreased sales by 70% during the first half of March. Since the business was forced to close in the middle of March, Graham’s Style Store has seen sales decline 95%.

Graham told the Telegraph Herald that the journey of the store’s founder — and his great-grandfather — has provided inspiration and perspective during the current challenges.

“He started this business in 1936 during the Great Depression, but he was tenacious and persistent and positive, and the business survived it,” he said.

CNN also paid a visit to Stone Cliff Winery in the Port of Dubuque, where owner Nan Smith predicted that economic activity “is going to come back slowly.”

The crew also featured a livestock auction business in Maquoketa.

Bob Larkey, the longtime owner of Maquoketa Livestock Sales, Inc., told the cable news crew that he sold about 1,400 cattle in April — less than half his typical volume for that month.

He told the Telegraph Herald that everyone across the ag economy is struggling to sell their commodities.

“It makes no difference if you’ve got cattle or corn,” he said. “The more you’ve got, the worse it is.”