Bootleggers River Tavern, new look, name and menu

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From left, Bootleggers Tavern by the River owners Nick and Jen Glenis and Jim Pfaffly, stand behind one of their living edge dining tables. Re-opening of the newly-renovated restaurant is scheduled for Friday, April 26. (Press photo by Caroline Rosacker)

By Caroline Rosacker

Bootleggers River Tavern, located at 36835 Noble Road, just off Highway 52 in Millville, has been undergoing renovations and is getting ready to re-open following recent flood damage.

The new look will be unveiled on Friday, April 26, at 11 a.m. Singer, guitarist and songwriter Bruce Bryant, Carpe Diem, will provide the entertainment. 

Owners Jen and Nick Glenis and Deacon Jim Pfaffly invite everyone to stop in and check out the remodelling, updated menu and great music.  

The trio of business owners shared their sense of humor and  story with The Press: "A scientist, a Deacon and a chef walked into a bar and the turkey came in and swallowed them up." 

Pfaffly said, "I was involved in a group with the previous owner. He asked members if any of them knew anyone who wanted to buy a restaurant. I knew Jen (Pfaffly's daughter) and Nick were interested and actively searching restaurant properties in their hometown of Columbus, Wis. The three of us looked at Bootleggers a year ago on Holy Saturday and made an offer on Easter Sunday." He said with a smile, "I believe the Holy Spirit had a hand in this transaction and business adventure."

The couple, who has one son, relocated to the area to begin their business venture. Jen, who has a science degree, commented, "I worked in the biotech field.  Because of the nature of the industry, layoffs became a regular occurrence. I was tired of job fluctuation and being told I was over-qualified." She continued, "I have always loved project management. That style of management is a perfect fit for owning and operating a restaurant because of the multiple components that have to come together to create a successful end result."

Nick comes to the restaurant business as a second generation chef. He has worked in the restaurant industry for 42 years, starting at age 12 in the family business. "I am a self-taught chef. I started in the dish room in our family's restaurant. If I didn't want to go to school, my dad would tell me I could come to the restaurant and clean the grease trap. School didn't seem so bad after that," he said with a laugh. 

Nick has worked under the direction of master chefs in the industry throughout his career. The former Essen Haus chef  enjoys a variety of cooking styles, listing Mediterranean as one of his favorites.

Pfaffly, once retired, is currently in his 39th year teaching chemistry and physics at Clayton Ridge. He has been the Deacon of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Guttenberg for the past 21 years. 

"I prefer to be a silent partner. If they need help — bussing tables, serving food or waiting tables — I will pitch in. I enjoy coming in on the weekend and visiting with patrons," he said. 

Jen commented, "If I have any business or financial questions, I can bounce them off my dad for input." 

Bootleggers River Tavern new name

Ushering in a new look and a new name, Bootleggers' owners are picking up the pieces after flood waters from the Turkey River swept into their business earlier this spring.

Nick commented, "We had 27 inches of water in the building during the recent flash flood. The renovations we are making will hopefully withstand flood waters in the event it should happen again."

The owners ripped out multiple layers of concrete that had been poured and layered throughout the years. They replaced it with new concrete and finished it off with an epoxy overlay. The main bar has been replaced with green treated lumber, and the bar surface and tabletops have been replaced with living edge whole tree slabs.

Enter in Guttenberg native Cy Frommelt, Jr., who currently resides with his family in Anamosa. 

Jen shared this story, "I messaged a flood update on Facebook. Cy was driving by Bootleggers concurrently thinking to himself, 'I wish there was something I could do for them.' He saw my message and reached out to us." 

She continued with gratitude, "I knew he was in the lumber business and asked him if he could direct me to someone who could help us find a lumber dealer that specialized in living edge lumber. As luck would have it he handled this type of special cut and offered to help us out at zero cost!"

Bootleggers River Tavern owners shared, "We have remodeled and replaced the interior of the restaurant from front to back. We are wiring USB ports in our living edge bar for patron convenience." 

The establishment can accommodate a variety of dining preferences. "Whether you are rumbling in on your Harley or gathering together with family and friends, we offer a unique dining experience," they commented. 

Diners interested in a more sophisticated experience are invited to attend Bootleggers special bistro night. "Every six weeks we close the restaurant to the public and offer a reservation-only gourmet five-course meal," they offered.

The owners would like to thank the community for their patience and support during this arduous process and look forward to your return patronage. 

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