Cousins hope to maintain family ‘legacy’ with upcoming ownership change of area liquor store

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Family Beer & Liquor ( is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday.

EAST DUBUQUE, Ill. — A longtime area beer and liquor store soon will change hands, though the East Dubuque business will remain within the same family.

Owner and general manager Tim Althaus is set to soon sell Family Beer & Liquor to his cousin, Josh Althaus. The store sells a variety of alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages and has been in the Althaus family since 1952.

“We have a tremendous amount of pride in this being a family business, … and we definitely wanted to continue that Althaus legacy,” Tim Althaus said. “When I started thinking about selling, reaching out to Josh … seemed like a no-brainer.”

Between its wine, beer and liquor offerings, the East Dubuque store has thousands of beverage selections, including more than 250 rare wines found in its temperature- and humidity-controlled reserve room.

Tim Althaus, of Dubuque, has owned the store since 1999 and said he began to think about selling the business earlier this year to allow more time for personal pursuits. He and his wife, Mary, don’t have any kids, but he said he still wanted the store to stay in the family.

Josh Althaus came to mind, Tim said, because of his business background and their shared familial connection to the store. Tim reached out soon after to propose the transition, and Josh agreed.

“I’d always envisioned working for the family business someday, but when (Tim) asked if I wanted to take it over earlier this year, it definitely put things in fast forward,” said Josh Althaus, of Dubuque. “It’s a new set of skills and challenges from what I’ve done before, but I’m looking forward to taking things on.”

The official changeover will take place Jan. 1, continuing a seven-decade trend of family ownership.

The business first was purchased by brothers Emil and Herb Althaus in 1952. Then located in Dubuque, the store started out exclusively selling beer and soda before later moving to East Dubuque and expanding its selection.

“Back in the ’50s, it was called ‘Family Beer Store’ because basically all we sold was beer and pop. So we had root beer for the kids and beer for the adults,” Tim Althaus said. “Then we moved to East Dubuque, which let us add in the liquor and wine.”

From there, the store became an all-hands-on-deck family affair.

Dennis Althaus, Herb’s son and Tim’s father, purchased the business in 1971 and oversaw its relocation to East Dubuque in the ’80s. In 1999, he passed the reins to Tim Althaus, who has owned the store ever since.

Numerous other family members also have worked in the store over the years as managers, cashiers and sales associates. With time, the company name became near-synonymous with that of the Althaus family.

“In 1999, we pretty much tripled our space — from about 7,000 square feet to 20,000 — and that was huge for us,” Tim Althaus said. “It’s been a huge point of pride to be part of the community with a service we love to provide.”

Josh Althaus, whose vocational background is in technology and internet services, has been visiting Family Beer & Liquor regularly since September to learn the ropes from Tim and the rest of the store’s staff.

He said he doesn’t anticipate any major changes to the business under his ownership and instead will work to continue the store’s focus on quality products, affordable pricing and customer service.

“Like they say, ‘If it’s not broke, don’t fix it,’” Josh said. “We have a great staff, great customers, … and the fact our family has been doing this for over seven decades really speaks the world of the relationship we have with the community.”