Davenport business owners opening live music venue, restaurant in downtown Dubuque

Fox Den Motel

LOCATION: 920 Main St. 

HOURS: Upon opening, hours will be from 4 to 10 p.m. Thursday and 4 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The owners are looking at adjusting hours once food service becomes available. 

CONTACT: foxdenmotel@gmail.com

ONLINE: foxdenmotel.com. The business also can be found at facebook.com/foxdenmotel and on Instagram @foxdenmotel. 

Business owners from Davenport, Iowa, are bringing more food and entertainment options to downtown Dubuque.

Fox Den Motel, in the former Tavern on the Main location at 920 Main St., will open officially on Thursday, July 14, after holding a soft opening last weekend.

The business is a bar and live music venue, and Davenport restaurant Kitchen Brigade will operate out of the venue’s kitchen to serve food.

“We wanted to help expand and help grow the music scene in the area,” said Fox Den Motel co-owner John McDermott. “We knew there were some music lovers in Dubuque, and logistically, this was a good business move for us. Dubuque is just a growing, beautiful town. There are lots of good things going on out there, and we want to be a part of it.”

McDermott and his business partner, Sean Moeller, also own live music venue and bar Raccoon Motel in Davenport. Moeller also does a lot of booking for musical acts at Codfish Hollow Barnstormers in rural Maquoketa, Iowa, as well, so he is familiar with the area music scene.

McDermott said the pair opened Raccoon Motel in late July of last year.

“We just stuck with the motel theme,” he said of Fox Den Motel’s name. “We wanted each town we potentially got into to have their own modifier. A uniform name would cause logistic nightmares for us, having bands show up in the wrong city.”

McDermott said he and Moeller bought the Dubuque property a year ago. Online property records show the building was purchased for $255,000.

“We think Main Street has got a lot of potential there,” McDermott said. “There are lots of festivals in that area. It’s a perfect little spot. We’re not trying to be a late-night nightlife spot. We’re kind of a destination and happy-hour place for those business workers in the area.”

A bar and kitchen is located on the main floor of the business. The bar will open on Thursday, with Kitchen Brigade starting to serve food at a later date.

Kitchen Brigade owner Chad Cushman said the Davenport restaurant opened a little over a year ago. That location shares space and serves food for Stompbox Brewing, and Cushman said the same business model will be in place with Fox Den Motel.

Cushman said the Dubuque menu has not been finalized but will focus on fresh, European-inspired menu items.

“It’s five-star dive bar food,” he said. “It will reflect the menu we have here in Davenport. … Part of the mission of opening up Kitchen Brigade in Dubuque is to introduce a different style of food to the palates.”

Cushman added that people will be able to order food at a counter during live music nights at Fox Den Motel, but servers will take orders during regular nights.

He said he believes food service will be ready to go in a month or month and a half, and he is looking for six kitchen staff members.

“The workforce is a challenge right now,” he said. “That’s the reason why we’re not ready to go right now.”

The stage for live music is on the lower level of Fox Den Motel. McDermott said the stage area will be rebuilt over the next couple of months before the owners start booking acts. He also noted many area music acts are already booked for the summer.

“(Moeller) is very well tied in with the independent music scene, so it’ll be kind of all over the place,” McDermott said of the types of acts that will perform. “If we have three shows in a week, we will probably attract three different audiences. One night might be country night, the next night might be a soulful, acoustic night, and then it might be a rock night, and everything else in between. It’s nice that there’s going to be something for everyone.”

Musical acts will be announced on Fox Den Motel’s website and social media accounts.

McDermott also added that the lower level will be available for rent for entertainment space or other events. The lower level also has its own bar.

He said the bar had a successful soft opening, and he looks forward to being part of the Dubuque community.

“We’ve got some good friends already in town,” McDermott said. “We’re just really excited to get things running full bore. … Dubuque is set up for long-term success, and we want to add a little music and good food to that.”