Ready to ride
FD bar and grill reopens after COVID-19 shutdown, remodel
About a year ago, Corey Lombard bought some old tin off of a building that was getting torn down.
A few months ago, he bought a gray-colored front door with a rustic theme.
And his mother had given him postcards and pictures of downtown Fort Dodge from the 1920s and 30s.
Lombard had been collecting these items in hopes of one day giving his restaurant, Rides Bar & Grill, a new look.
It turned out that March 17 would provide him that opportunity. That was the day Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds closed all dine-in restaurants and bars in the state.
“I never thought I’d be tearing everything off the walls,” Lombard said. “But right at noon when we got closed I said, ‘let’s see what we can get done.'”
Since that time, the tin has been installed on the walls inside the restaurant. More will be going around the exterior of the building.
A fresh coat of paint has been added inside.
Fort Dodge-themed photos have joined other auto-related signage and memorabilia. A 1927 menu of the Wahkonsa Hotel and Annex is one new piece on display. It shows that customers could buy two Wahkonsa Special Sirloin Steaks for $1.40.
The floors have been ground down and polished. Old Webster County license plates have been turned into switch and light covers.
And Rides has a new front door.
“We turned the place into a rustic theme with a little hot rod garage,” said Lombard. “Rides is all about the rides, whether it’s cars or motorcycles.”
Lombard was born and raised in Fort Dodge. He graduated from Fort Dodge Senior High in 1990.
After working for USG for many years, he went to work for Tate and Lyle.
“A year later they laid us off and I decided to try my own business in a restaurant,” Lombard said.
In 2009, he bought Roman Inn, 723 S, 31st St., and transformed it into Rides.
Since then, Rides has gained a reputation for having one of the best burgers around.
For the past five years, Rides has won the The Messenger’s Readers’ Choice for Best Hamburgers.
“We get our hamburgers from Sawyer’s (Meats of Iowa – also located in Fort Dodge),” Lombard said. “We lightly season them and cook them on the old flat top grill. We use fresh vegetables and buns, a lot of it is from Hy-Vee. Fresh is better.”
All of the burgers on the menu are named after a car or motorcycle, said Lombard, who also does a lot of the cooking.
One of Rides’ signature burgers is called the Studebaker.
That’s a double bacon cheeseburger on a toasted bun with peanut butter and a fried egg.
Lombard named the burger after his dad’s first car.
“My dad bought a brand new Studebaker and that was his first car in 1953,” Lombard said. “That burger is iconic within Rides.”
Rides also offers Prime Rib every Friday night.
“We also make our own pizzas,” Lombard said.
Being shut down the past several weeks has hurt business, but Lombard said he wanted to turn it into a positive.
“It’s a new look at Rides,” Lombard said. “But all of our signs and other memorabilia is still here.”
Through Rides, Lombard has been able to connect with not only Fort Dodgers, but people from all over the country.
“It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “I like it. You meet people all the time. I meet people from out of town cruising through on bikes or cars. “I’ve met so many neat people from all over. And all my regulars from Fort Dodge are like family. They love to come out and have a good burger.”
Rides was set to open back up at 50% occupancy Friday after the governor lifted certain restrictions on restaurants.