I double dog dare you.

That was the challenge issued by the Iowa Roadie’s husband when I told him I was not only going to write a new blog…but make scotcheroos as well.

Whoa! A blog AND scotcheroos? 

In hindsight, that DOES sound a bit ambitious…particularly when I didn’t even know if we had rice krispies in the house. (This is because cereal has sugar and carbohydrates, and we are supposed to be “eating healthy”…no thanks to a “mildly obese” ruling at last year’s Iowa Roadie physical. ) 

However that diagnosis was far from my mind when I made such a bold claim. 

What I WAS thinking about was how tasty the Captain Morgan and root beer cocktails were that I had just consumed. All while sitting on the sunny patio of Lehigh’s Riverside Tavern after two months of quarantine drinking at home. TWO MONTHS of Aldi’s wine on my front porch with only my “double-dog dare you” husband as company. 

Was it any wonder that I felt emboldened and free? Surely allowances are made for rum-infused proclamations…

Unless you’re the Iowa Roadie… and you’ve announced to your husband that you’re going to make scotcheroos and write a new blog. Before you go to bed. While watching American Idol. And Forensic Files II. 

And so I apologize in advance. Blogs should not be written under duress. Or with the help of Mr. Morgan.

So here goes…the first post-quarantine Iowa Roadie adventure. 

Last week, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds decreed that after nearly two months, restaurants could re-open if they abided by certain (very oppressive) guidelines… Half-full. Six feet apart. Must consume food.  

As if I’m going to drink a cocktail without cheeseballs!

Which is why the Iowa Roadie and her husband headed to The Riverside Tavern in Lehigh. This popular biker bar was recently voted the #1 Dive Bar in America by “Dive Bar Road Trip” Facebook page followers. (You’re welcome for the nomination.) The little pub features cheap broasted chicken and an outdoor patio overlooking the Des Moines River. 

But perhaps the Riverside Tavern’s biggest drawing point was simply that it was open and offered a glimmer of pre-virus normalcy.

We were able to sit mask-free at a patio table and soak up the sunshine while enjoying appetizers and conversation with our friend Tad, whom we had met on our previous visit to the Riverside Tavern. (Tad, it seems, had taken some local heat when he described Lehigh’s population of 300 residents as “inbred.”) While catching up, Tad revealed that he had just quit his job to pursue his love of cooking when restaurants were ordered to shut down. Fortunately he has since found other employment…unless he listens to the Iowa Roadie’s advice to open a food truck. (Another suggestion attributed to Mr. Morgan.)

(Quick interjection…Tad is the one who introduced me to the Captain Morgan/root beer combination. I would also like to point out that Tad could drink TWO of these cocktails in the time it took me to drink one. And although scotcheroos may be the epitome of my culinary skill set, Tad had smoked pork butt enchiladas waiting for him at home.)

Besides our lovely conversation with Tad, we were approached by a 10-year-old boy selling Casey’s coupon cards as a fundraiser for his football team. These cards cost $20 and featured deals such as “buy a large specialty pizza, get a medium one topping pizza for free.” (Besides Busch Light and ranch dressing, nothing screams IOWA more than Casey’s pizza.)

However if we weren’t lured in by the discounted pizza, the boy’s hand-printed sign sealed the deal. With penmanship distinctive only to a pre-teen boy, the specific pizza deals were scrawled in black marker on a piece of cardboard. However at the bottom of his sign, the young man offered these fine words of wisdom…”Don’t be tightass. 

Who can resist advice that is both so grammatically and politically incorrect? 

Needless to say, the Casey’s coupon cards sold out.

On a serious note, I would like to note that although we were able to enjoy an afternoon reminiscent of “the old days” at the Riverside Tavern, we realize that things have not yet returned to normal for Iowa bars and restaurants. With reduced hours and operating restrictions, many have decided not to reopen yet. Some are continuing with a limited takeout menu. And sadly others have chosen to permanently close their doors due to the financial hardships imposed by the prolonged closure. 

I have received an outpouring from bar owners dealing with the ramifications of this situation. Take Rita Walton, owner of the small Main Avenue Pub in Clinton. She had green beer and shamrock shakes ready when forced to close within an hour of her St. Patrick’s Day celebration, one of her biggest revenue days of the year. Third-generation bar owner Mallory Kruse of Jorgies in DeWitt is concerned about the livelihood of her employees who are without work. And Jim Daw, owner of the tiny East-West Hideout Bar & Grill in Argyle, revealed that although they have no idea what the final outcome will be, they will not “roll over and play dead.” 

I commend the fight and spirit of these, as well as other, Iowa dive bar owners. Each owner has also recognized the support of loyal patrons who have continued to support them, even if at a reduced level. 

SO…as bars and restaurants begin to reopen, the Iowa Roadie is asking you to go above and beyond in showing your support to your favorite dive bar. In the words of that 10-year-old boy…

DON’T BE TIGHTASS!

I double dog dare you!


(PS…For those of you still wondering about that original “double dog dare,” I hate to admit that my husband won. Because although I DID make scotcheroos, it took me 24 hours to complete this blog…due to an episode of “Naked and Afraid” in the Louisiana swamp that diverted my attention from writing. But after patio cocktails and Casey’s pizza, I’m declaring us BOTH winners. Cheers!)

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