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Biz Buzz shares business tidbits from the tri-states. This week, we highlight developments from Dubuque and Epworth, Iowa, and Galena, Ill.
A new business with a fitting name is providing a venue for people to come together in Epworth.
Locals Bar & Coffee Shop opened at 107 W. Main St. in May and quickly earned a loyal following among area residents.
Dan and Angie Kramer started the business. He said the couple hoped to provide a community gathering place.
“In a town of about 2,000 people, we thought this was important — that people needed a place to come together and get a drink and socialize,” he said.
The bar and coffee shop occupies a structure that formerly housed Weber’s Bar & Grill. Dan Kramer noted that the building previously served a much different purpose.
“It was built over 100 years ago, and it used to be an old Ford dealership,” he said. “People love to sit in here and talk about their memories of the building.”
Locals Bar & Coffee Shop takes on two different identities, depending on the time of day.
Lindsie Wessels operates the coffee shop, which is open from 6 a.m. until 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday. It is building a reputation for its breakfast sandwiches, as well as its homemade espresso and energy drinks.
“Epworth is such a great place to have a business,” Wessels said. “Everyone in town has been so supportive.”
The bar is open from 3 p.m. until closing time — which can vary depending on crowd size — on weekdays, with an earlier opening time on weekends
Angie Kramer said Locals also has started attracting some out-of-towners as high school sports kick into full gear.
“We think there will be a lot of fans coming into town who want a place to stop before or after the game, and we’re excited to have them,” she said.
Locals can be reached at 563-204-2047.
OUTDOOR REC BUSINESS OPENS
Months after an outdoor recreation business closed its doors, a new incarnation of that enterprise has commenced operations in Galena.
Galena River Outfitters opened this month at 527 S. Main St., according to owner Chris Carter. The business specializes in canoe, kayak and bike rentals and operates out of the same location that housed the similarly named Fever River Outfitters.
Carter explained that Fever River Outfitters, a joint effort with his brother, Sean, closed for the season in October and never reopened.
Chris explained that his brother suffered a serious injury in the summer of 2020, which dissuaded Sean from returning to the operation. Chris serves as the sole owner of Galena River Outfitters.
“It is hard not having him as a partner anymore,” Chris said. “But it is great to be open now. It is a great location and great city to have this business.”
Carter emphasized that the business has been embraced since opening a few weeks ago.
“We have people honking and waving as they drive by,” he said. “They seem thrilled that we’ve opened.”
Carter also emphasized that he is aiming to connect with local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, as well as area schools, in hopes of providing educational outdoor programming to area youth.
Galena River Outfitters is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days per week. It can be reached at 815-281-2773.
EXPANDING DINING OPTIONS
With the expansion of an existing dining option, as well as the introduction of a new one, Q Casino and Hotel in Dubuque is beefing up its culinary amenities.
Houlihan’s plans to unveil a sizable new outdoor dining area over the Labor Day weekend, according to Q Director of Hospitality John Torres.
The new area, located just to the west of Houlihan’s, will have seating for 60 people under a canopy and an additional 48 people in a “picnic setting,” Torres explained. It also will feature a fire pit, four large-screen televisions and heating lamps that should make the new area usable even when temperatures begin to cool later in the year.
Torres noted that the outdoor area also will feature live, acoustic musical acts.
The idea for the outdoor expansion largely was born out of the unique circumstances of the past year.
“Due to the current circumstances, a lot of people are still more comfortable with open-air dining,” Torres said. “We previously had a very small patio area with just a few tables, and we experimented with some other ideas in the last year. We wanted to create a larger outdoor dining area that people could enjoy.”
Houlihan’s also partnered with a Chicago-based restaurant to bring a new dining option to the community.
Wow Bao, which specializes in Asian street food, began operating a ghost kitchen out of Houlihan’s in early August, according to Torres.
The eatery specializes in a yeast-leavened bun known as bao, which serves as a key portion of a variety of Asian dishes and makes them easily portable for consumers on the go. Wow Bao also sells pot stickers, dumplings and rice and noodle bowls.
Wow Bao is available for carryout and delivery only. It can be reached by visiting wowbao.com/location/wow-bao-dubuque.