DOLLIVER, Iowa - "Now you pick it up; look at it," said Andrew Dieterich, as he instructed a customer on how to peel a steamed shrimp. "Then you pull it apart, grab the legs and pinch the tail. All the meat comes out."
Instructions on how to properly shell the house specialty - steamed shrimp - is just one of the unique features of the new gathering spot in Dolliver: Bootlegger's Pub & Grub. Dieterich opened the restaurant and lounge in December after several years of running Bud's Cafe in Estherville. He admits it was a risk.
"It was a gamble to open it before Christmas," he admits. "But it's been a good gathering spot. A lot of word of mouth and Facebook has helped."
Owner Andrew Dieterich, right, and head cook Jean Radunz show off the house specialty at Bootleggers Pub & Grub in Dolliver: steamed shrimp.
As a hunter, Dieterich knew that the area was close to absolutely nothing.
"If you wanted to grab a soda or a bite to eat, it was more than 10 miles to get to the next town in any direction you went," he said. "It was the only place where there was nothing and no competition. There was nothing for this little hub of people."
Dieterich bought the building on Dolliver's main street in April. It was originally a drug store and then a cafe before sitting empty for 12 years. Remodeling took place during the fall.
"We remodeled with old barn wood," he said. "There was this old barn that was torn down, and [the owner] let me take all the lumber I needed. About 65 percent of the remodeling was lumber. We remodeled it to make it look like it'd been that way forever."
Vintage signs hang on the wall, many of them for sale.
"We've had some things donated to us, and it's indicated whether the things are for sale or not," Dieterich said.
Then there is the menu, which shows Dieterich's East Coast influence.
"I grew up on the East Coast, and that is how they cook it there, the steamed shrimp," he said. "That's the specialty we're going with, the seafood."
New menus show different specials each week that include everything from pizza to ribs, and of course shrimp.
"I've been in the food [industry], I know what works," Dieterich said. "I think we give the customers a good deal. It's not always a profit to us, but it's a draw for people to come in and have a few drinks."
Already, Bootleggers has a following.
"We already have nearly 400 friends on Facebook," said Jean Radunz, a cousin to Dieterich and the main cook at Bootleggers. "We've been really busy, we have people coming in from all over the place."
The hub draws people from all walks of life, from the farmers, to snowmobilers, to diners just seeking something new.
"We've been here three or four times now," said Tami Loeato of Armstrong. "And we just keep coming back. We love it."
Bootleggers is open 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday through Sunday, with hours expected to expand in the spring.