Dotzy’s open for business
Dotzy’s open for business
After several months of planning, hoping, dreaming, and hard work, Danielle Dotzenrod and her boyfriend, Chris Bunch, were finally able to see the fruits of their labor with the opening of Dotzy's Restaurant and Saloon in Elgin last week.
Located along Elgin’s main street, Dotzenrod and her sister, Aimee, originally purchased the former Valley Community Coalition building with plans to turn the office space into the next big eatery.
At a different stage in her life with a family and approaching wedding, Aimee has since decided to allow her sister to operate the new restaurant.
Dotzenrod, a 1997 South Winn graduate, has focused on creating a unique restaurant atmosphere with a Western theme.
"Whether you're a farmer, horse lover, or country music fan, I think the one thing we all have in common is our love for the country," Danielle said.
The restaurant will be family-oriented with surprises in store for the kids.
"That's not to say that Dotzy's isn't a great place for date night, though, either," she noted.
Growing up in Calmar, Dotzenrod noticed there isn't a "cool, country, cowboy-themed," Western restaurant or bar to visit in northeast Iowa.
“I am really proud that everything here at Dotzy’s makes almost everything from scratch, except for dressings. In the construction of the eatery, everything other than the bathroom tile and a few metal pieces on the booth sconces is recycled,” the business owner said.
Barn boards, customized furniture, and repurposed Mason jars add a rustic, unique atmosphere.
And one-of-a-kind it is.
The bathroom features horseshoe hinges, a steel bucket sink, horse collar mirror, carriage lights, and window weights to close the stall doors.
Duane Baumler from north of Decorah gifted the couple an old barn, and they spent two weeks tearing the barn apart. The barn boards were later utilized as the walls of the eatery after Danielle and her stepfather, Mark Schweitzer, gutted the building around Jan. 1.
Once the demolition was complete Danielle, Chris and Jim Dotzenrod, Danielle’s father, began construction.
Originally the floor was going to be from the hayloft floor, but a hole in the roof had damaged it,
“We were wondering what to do in a panic when someone suggest a “penny floor,” Danielle explained.
It took the couple, with help from many, seven days to lay the 275,000 pennies, plus four days to grout and polyurethane.
“Once we started we were committed to it,” noted Dotzenrod.
Mason jar chandeliers hang from hay rails while 500 ft. of barn rope covers the columns in the middle of the restaurant.
An antique bar gifted to the couple was brought back to life once removed from the former “Odd Fellows” bar above T-Bocks in Decorah.
Chris had never created a piece of furniture before, but the couple found a style they liked, and he was able to replicate the booths, tables and chairs.
When it comes to food, Dotzy's will provide some of the owners' favorite meals prepared by Danielle’s cousin Tina Gardner.
"We are putting a fun spin on classic dishes we all love," Danielle said enthusiastically.
Examples of featured dishes include the barbecued-chicken omelet, peanut butter French toast, corn cakes with ribs for breakfast; beef brisket or pulled pork sandwiches topped with coleslaw for lunch; or steak with sauteed mushrooms or topped with bleu cheese for supper.
"As of right now, we plan to be open six nights a week for supper and open for breakfast and lunch, as well, on the weekends," the new businesswoman noted.
“It has taken us a lot longer to open than we had hoped. But everything took longer than we thought since we did it ourselves.”
In the first week of business, Dotzy’s has been abuzz with activity as customers from northeast Iowa flock to check out the new eatery.
“The town of Elgin has been welcoming. We feel really wanted, needed, and appreciated,” Dotzenrod said.
She is discovering the history of the old building as well. In her first week open, she invited local businessman Dirk Torkelson into Dotzy’s and found out that his grandpa built the building and his father and uncles begged for the roller-skating rink upstairsin the new restaurant.
Dotzenrod has lived in Los Angeles, Calif., for the past 12 years and currently hosts two shows on The Tennis Channel.