Farley business owner purchasing American Legion building

FARLEY, Iowa — Doug Ernzen, owner of Dirty Ernie’s in Farley, is known for his big heart and community-mindedness.

He frequently offers his bar for fundraising efforts when the need arises in the tight-knit local community.

“Everyone is family in Farley. We work together to help each other out,” Ernzen said.

On a recent afternoon, he opened the doors of Dirty Ernie’s to a car club needing space to gather after a funeral. He told them they would have to fend for themselves since he had to go across the street to the building he is in the process of purchasing.

American Legion Post 656 has owned the building at 301 First Ave. E. since 1949, when post-World War II membership was around 170, according to Dick Link, a legion member who said the group’s peak years were the late ’80s when membership was up to 247.

Today, Legion members are aging, and the younger generation doesn’t seem interested, creating the need to downsize property and responsibility.

Legion members approached Ernzen, who immediately was interested in being part of keeping Farley’s main street busy. The closure of Greenwood’s Grocery since a fire in May has left people without a good food option in town, Ernzen said.

An updated parking lot, new outdoor lighting, new booths and a fresh interior coat of paint have brought the building to life as it waits for Ann “Dinger” Schieltz, of Dinger’s D’Lite’s, to move in and open her expanded business in September.

“I’ve been waiting for this day for 12 years,” said Schieltz, who got her start at a farmers market tent seven years ago and has spent the past year selling her signature sandwiches from the trailer she purchased from Town Clock Pizza.

Her collaboration with American Legion Post 656 and Doug Ernzen is a fantastic opportunity, in her opinion.

Schieltz, her husband and children have been a team offering fresh local food and homemade sauces at events and farmers markets within a 50-mile radius. She’s a familiar face at Dubuque, Epworth, and Dyersville markets. Soon, she will have a presence at the new Farley Farmers Market in Farley Park.

Schieltz is proud of her homemade sauces and said the most-loved sandwich on her menu is “The Dinger,” a combination of pulled pork, cheddar, swiss, bacon, onion straws and her whiskey barbecue sauce. Born Ann Schwendinger, “Dinger” became her childhood nickname and followed her into the business that synthesizes her love of people; cooking; and fresh, local ingredients.

Schieltz plans to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, though at the moment she only is willing to commit to breakfast on weekends. She hopes to open the restaurant and continue serving customers from her food truck, too, if she is able to find adequate help.

The American Legion will continue using the space for events and its monthly meetings.

“It will always be the Legion,” said Ernzen, who also will offer the downstairs meeting room and restaurant as an event venue.