Reinventing the Roadhouse

Published on Thu, Jul 18, 2002 by Christine Callan

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Reinventing the Roadhouse

By Christine Callan

Through the double-glass doors sits one of the biggest wooden dance floors in the northwest. “Hey Porter” by Johnny Cash resonates from the jukebox while several people scramble around setting up tropical decorations for the night’s events, exotic dancers followed by a live band. A couple of mid-day customers chat and drink a beer at one of the three full-service bars.

Just outside Blaine City limits on the left side of the road sits a small venue that welcomes big names. The Dakota Creek Roadhouse, named after a local landmark, just celebrated a grand re-opening on the fourth of July.

Mark Wertz, the current owner, purchased the building in March of 2000 when it was still 2 Louies. In November 2001, he changed the name to Dakota Creek Roadhouse.

Built in 1958, the building has changed names and ownership several times, but one theme still remains, great music.

Ranging from classic rock artists such as Blue Oyster Cult and 38 Special to local artists from throughout Washington, music, food and drinks make the Dakota Creek Roadhouse a stop for many people traveling from Vancouver or the Seattle area.

“We especially want to build up the restaurant and kitchen as we focus on the menu,” said John Bense, general manager One thing that sets Dakota Creek apart is the full menu service from 11a.m. until 2a.m. daily (except pizzas, served until 1:30a.m.). Dakota Creek now serves a bigger, 10-ounce steak with a baked potato or fries and according to John, the burgers, steaks and pizzas are a big hit.

Widening the liquor selection was one effort made to cater to the eclectic crowd that visits from all over the area.

“We are very focused on not letting people get drunk,” said Matt, bar manager and younger brother of Bense. “We want everybody that leaves here to drive safe and get home.”

In addition to changes to the menu, cosmetic changes are taking place as well. “We re-did the kitchen, put in new cabinets and a new floor and worked on landscaping the front of the building with new planters.”

Several things are being done to emphasize benefiting the community as well. These include delivering pizzas and food throughout the community, hosting benefit concerts, working to bring in local employees, keeping Dakota Creek a family oriented place during the day and early evening (until 10 p.m.) and encouraging local talent to perform.

”We are trying to bring in quality music that involves the people and allows them to have a good time,” Matt said. “By around 10:30 p.m, we are fully rocking and there is a lot going on.”

Classic rock is the general musical theme for Wednesday through Sunday nights, including live music Friday and Saturday nights. Dakota Creek features an array of music that ranges from blues and jazz to the best of the locals, the up and comings and classic rock bands.

“When people walk out of here I want them to be like the Grateful Dead would say ‘Steal Your Face.’”

Matt said the phrase referred to a euphoric feeling that really can’t be explained or talked about. “That is what we strive for,” he said. “It’s just ‘wow,’ something overwhelming, a once in a lifetime.”
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