Biz Buzz: Taco restaurant nears opening, candle company eyes Central Avenue, Peosta taproom and coffeehouse take shape

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Biz Buzz shares business tidbits from across the tri-states. In this edition, we share updates from Dubuque and Peosta, Iowa.

A new taco restaurant with lengthy hours and an emphasis on entertainment will soon open its doors in Dubuque.

Rusty Taco is aiming to open Sept. 24, according to franchisee Luke Flatin. The restaurant will serve 24 different kinds of tacos, including six breakfast taco selections, as well as nachos, quesadillas, rice bowls and salad bowls.

The restaurant will be open from 7 a.m. until midnight daily.

“We plan to be one of the best Mexican restaurants in town, and I think we’ll be able to do that,” Flatin said.

Rusty Taco will occupy a tenant space attached to Natural Grocers, located at 3333 Asbury Road. It will have 100 indoor seats, 54 outdoor seats and room for an additional 50 in a party room within the facility.

Flatin said he already has hired around 50 people to staff the Dubuque location. He hopes to add 10 more by the time opening day arrives.

He emphasized that the food won’t be the only attraction at Rusty Taco. The eatery will feature a bar and will offer a wide range of live entertainment.

“We hope to have a fun and fast-paced environment,” Flatin said. “We’ll have live music, trivia nights, karaoke and possibly even a bingo night because this building used to be a bingo hall.”

Rusty Taco — named after founder Rusty Fenton — opened its first location in Dallas in 2010. It was recently purchased by Inspire Brands — which also owns multiple well-known chains including Sonic, Jimmy John’s, Arby’s and Dunkin’.

Up to this point, however, Rusty Taco still has a relatively small footprint.

Flatin said the Dubuque location will be the 36th to open nationally, but he expects the chain to take off in the near future.

“It’s a newly developing brand and I think you’ll see a lot more soon,” he said. “There are new ones ready to build in Florida, South Carolina and Utah, and I think they have 14 new builds for next year that they are shooting for.”


A Dubuque resident will soon open a storefront in a growing neighborhood that she once called home.

Wilson Candle Co. will open at 1540 Central Ave. in Dubuque early next month, said owner Ann Wilson. She said she moved to Dubuque about seven years ago and initially lived about a block away from the future home of her business.

“Because of Central, I fell in love with Dubuque,” she said. “Everything is nearby and convenient and the area has been revamped and improved so much in recent years.”

True to its name, Wilson Candle sells homemade candles that come in a wide variety of shapes and scents. Offerings include dessert-themed candles that smell like puddings, pies or cakes.

Wilson said the store also will sell room sprays, wax melts and carpet refreshers.

She has been making candles for three years but, until now, had exclusively operated the business out of her home and sold candles online. Her passion for the business and sales success led to her outgrowing its original space.

“The candles have taken over the kitchen and now they’re spilling over into the living room,” she said with a laugh. “I knew I needed to open a new location.”

Wilson said she is already occupying the Central Avenue location and has begun making candles there, ensuring she will have an extensive inventory ready to go on opening day. She plans to host a grand opening on Oct. 9, she added.

Customers can learn more by visiting


A pair of construction projects that will ultimately bring a new taphouse and coffee shop to Peosta, Iowa, are gaining momentum — and officials with the two businesses say they should be open by year’s end.

Andrea Burds, manager of Darkbird Taphouse, said the project is “coming along quickly” and she anticipates that the business will open to the public in late November.

“We’ve got drywall going up now and the railing on the deck is being installed … It is all going as planned and we’re enjoying watching it grow,” Burds said. “Each and every day there is something new.”

Burds noted that the beer selection at Darkbird Taphouse will include brews from Dubuque-based Dimensional Brewing Co., which she described as a “sister company” to the new Peosta business.

Darkbird Taphouse will be located along Thunder Valley Drive, between Thunder Hills and Cox Springs roads in Peosta, Iowa — and will be in close proximity to another exciting development in the city.

Jumble Coffee Co. recently broke ground on the future site of its third location, which will be erected across the street from Darkbird Taphouse, according to Jumble owner George Nauman. He said the new location is poised to open “by the end of the year,” adding that its first day of operations would likely be in November or December.

“We hope this new location will combine the best of both of our current locations (in Dubuque and Asbury),” he said, adding that the Peosta location will offer drive-thru services as well as outdoor seating.

Nauman expects a warm reception once the Peosta location opens.

“We had so many requests from Peosta residents to come to the city,” he said. “When the opportunity arose, to be along Highway 20 in this location, we were in immediately.”