Ole Town Road opens in Gowrie
Remodeled space gives new life to pub, eatery
GOWRIE — Before Larry Carlson and Melisa Leadley opened Ole Town Road Pub and Eatery, the couple had never been bartenders or servers.
But they got plenty of practice during the establishment’s grand opening on Nov. 14.
“We were busy,” said Leadley, who has always wanted to own a bar. “We only had one mess up on a to-go order.”
Ole Town Road, 1132 Market St., serves soft drinks, beer, and liquor along with a variety of specialty sandwiches and appetizers.
Melisa Leadley is grateful for the customers’ patience.
“That first night, everyone was waiting for us to open,” she said. “Everyone was very patient and it was very successful.”
Larry Carlson was a fast learner.
“I pretty much had it (bartending) down, though because I am used to sitting on the other side,” Carlson said.
Ole Town Road is located in the same spot as previous bars in Gowrie. It was most recently Marv’s Market Street Grill and Bar.
Marvin and Corrine Jensen sold the building to Carlson and Leadley for $130,000 in August, according to the Webster County Assessor’s page.
Leadley, a former photographer and home health care worker, said a lot of work was completed before Ole Town Road was opened.
“We got a brand new floor, brand new kitchen appliances, all new deep freezes, brand new bathrooms,” Leadley said.
Booths that used to occupy some of the dining space were ripped out and replaced with high tables.
In all, there’s about 13 tables, with some high and low seating options.
The back features a game room with a pool table and jukebox.
Outside of the restaurant, a new coat of gray paint was applied.
Although the name Ole Town Road might cause some people to think of the popular song “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus, Leadley insists there was other inspiration for the name.
“We were told this was originally the Princess Cafe and the upstairs were bunkhouses for railroad conductors,” Leadley said. “And right out here sat the train depot, which is still here but was moved down by the pool.”
But when they first opened, that didn’t stop the song “Old Town Road” from being played on the jukebox.
“The first three nights we were open, they played that damn song,” Carlson, a former police officer in Dayton, said.
The menu is less controversial and should provide customers with plenty of choices, Leadley said.
“It’s a smaller menu that way we can build as we grow and learn what our customers want,” Leadley said. “We want to keep the food fresh and rotating out.”
Appetizers include things like wings, cheeseballs, onion rings and fries.
One of their samplers, called Tavern Mix, comes with breaded jalapeno snaps, mozzarella sticks, cheddar-snaps, onion rings, mushrooms and waffle fries.
Cheeseburgers and chicken sandwiches are also available.
In terms of sandwiches, Leadley said the Ole Town Club House is popular. That has sliced ham, turkey, crispy bacon, cheddar and Swiss cheese between three slices of grilled Texas toast. It’s topped with lettuce, tomato and mayo.
“Saturday we were at Fareway buying all the Texas toast off the shelf that’s how fast we ran out,” Leadley said.
Busch Light, Budweiser, AmberBock, and a craft beer called Crispii Pilz, brewed in Coralville, is on tap.
Carlson said the Busch Light draw has been going out faster than the others.
In addition to Leadley and Carlson, six others are employed at the eatery.
Ole Town Road is open seven days a week, but Leadley said the hours can change anytime.
As it says on the menu, “If there are customers, we stay. If they leave, we leave.”
Leadley said she’s enjoying the new business venture.
“Our vision is to have a fun, loving welcoming establishment,” Leadley said. “It’s fun to see the different crowds and when the jukebox starts playing and people sing, dance and get along.”