Biz Buzz Tuesday: Hotel changes hands; new spirits store in Dubuque; Maquoketa business emphasizes reuse

Krystle Hewitt is the new general manager at The Irish Cottage Inn & Suites and Frank O’Dowd’s Irish Pub & Grill in Galena, Ill., which are under new ownership. PHOTO CREDIT: JESSICA REILLY

Biz Buzz shares business tidbits from the tri-states. This week we highlight developments in Galena, Ill., and Dubuque and Maquoketa, Iowa.

A new ownership group has taken the reins at a well-known Galena hotel and restaurant.

Griffin Hotel Management and Stonebridge Investments took ownership of Irish Cottage Inn & Suites and Frank O’Dowd’s Irish Pub & Grill in December, according to the new general manager of those entities, Krystle Hewitt.

Hewitt, who recently moved to Galena from Princeton, Ind., said she has been impressed by the community.

“Being as small as it is, I was surprised how well the community has built up downtown Galena and that Main Street area,” she said. “There is lots of energy and excitement about continuing to grow Galena.”

Hewitt expressed a deep admiration for the success of the previous ownership group. She noted that she met with one of the previous owners, Jack Coulter, during her first trip to the property and still interacts with him from time to time.

“(The previous owners) really did a great job building the reputation of the Irish Cottage and Frank O’Dowd’s,” she said. “We want to continue doing the things they did well and try to elevate the experience where we can.”

New management plans to expand the menu options at Frank O’Dowd’s. In the hotel, there will be enhanced bedding and new televisions that allow patrons to utilize new technologies like streaming services.

Hewitt acknowledged that taking over a hotel and restaurant during a pandemic has come with challenges. Chief among them is trying to hire new staff after some employees had to be let go during the height of the pandemic.

She noted that the first three months of the year are typically among the slowest in Galena. But she anticipates that things will gain steam over the rest of the year.

”We are starting to emerge,” Hewitt said. “Things are really starting to pick up.”

The hotel and restaurant can be reached at 815-776-0707.

NEW SPIRITS STORE IN DUBUQUE

A new wine and liquor store will soon open its doors at one of the most well-trafficked intersections in town.

Dubuque Wine & Spirits will open near the crossing of Asbury and John F. Kennedy roads next month, according to owner Mian Ahmed. It will occupy the former home of a U.S. Cellular store.

“Everything is coming together,” Ahmed said. “We will be open at some point in April. We just don’t know the exact date. We are hoping for before April 15.”

Ahmed said he has invested about $100,000 in renovations to the new store. He believes it is an expense that will prove to be worthwhile.

“There is a lot of population in that part of town and a lot of vehicle traffic,” he said. “It is encouraging.”

Ahmed also owns Northside Liquor & Tobacco, located at 2013 Central Ave. in Dubuque. He noted that this store soon could move into an open storefront next to the current location, an arrangement that would allow that business to expand while staying within the same building.

Dubuque Wine & Spirits will sell a wide array of alcoholic beverages, according to Ahmed. He noted that the new store will offer more “high-end, upscale” products than his store on Central Avenue.

NEW BUSINESS EMPHASIZES REUSE

A business with an emphasis on reuse has opened a new location in Maquoketa.

Repurposed Materials opened a facility — its fourth in the country — at 1725 E. Maple St. last week, according to owner Damon Carson.

The business was founded about a decade ago in Colorado and has since added locations in Texas and South Carolina.

Locations sell a variety of materials that no longer can serve their original purposes — such as fire hoses or wood from bowling alleys — but can still be used in another way.

“We think of it as an industrial thrift store,” Carson said. “These items may be retired or decommissioned from their original use, but we’re able to find people that can use these things for something else.”

Carson used to own a garbage-collection business. That experience allowed him to see items that businesses were discarding — and in many instances, he believes such materials could still serve a viable purpose.

“Ninety percent of the stuff was actually garbage,” he recalled. “About 10% of the stuff, you’d look at it and say, ‘There’s nothing wrong with this.’”

Repurposed Materials counts landscapers, livestock owners and “do-it-yourselfers” across the country as key customers.

The Maquoketa facility will help the company distribute products to customers throughout the U.S. Carson emphasized that the business is also open to local residents who want to stop into the facility from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays.

He believes there are plenty of “resourceful people” who will find a purpose for the items on sale.

“I love buying things that are used,” he said. “I wear used clothes. I bought a truck with 180,000 miles on it. I am very familiar with the waste in America and believe there is still a use for many of the items that would normally end up in a landfill.”

Repurposed Materials can be reached at 303-321-1471. More information is available online at repurposedmaterialsinc.com.