Paying his bills and having fun
“Stumpy” continues service to community
DUNCOMBE — About five years ago, hundreds of bicyclists flooded Stumpy’s Bar and Grill during RAGBRAI, an annual bicycle ride across Iowa.
“It was crazy,” recalled Bruce “Stumpy” Wagner, owner of the establishment. “We had breakfast burritos and breakfast sandwiches. When they (bicyclists) hit, we had five people in the kitchen making burritos and sandwiches and we couldn’t make them fast enough.”
The chaotic but energetic morning is a favorite memory of Wagner’s since he opened Stumpy’s in Duncombe six-and-a-half years ago.
“You meet some really nice people,” Wagner said. “I had two cousins from Fort Myers, Florida, who came up and went through the RAGBRAI. I hadn’t seen them for years and they stopped in to see me at my bar. All the sudden here they come walking in, so that was a lot of fun.”
Like many bars and restaurants, Stumpy’s saw a dip in sales and certain points throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
But Wagner is confident that fun events will return. And his business will remain strong.
“I am no better or worse than any other bar or restaurant,” Wagner said. “We are hanging in there.”
Wagner, of Fort Dodge, said he had long wanted to open a bar.
“My folks used to have a bar in Eagle Grove,” he said. “From ’75 to ’85 they had the Alibi in Eagle Grove.”
Wagner grew up in Webster City. That’s where the nickname “Stump” was born.
“Randy Youngdale from Webster City didn’t like my real name,” Wagner recalled. “He didn’t think I looked like a Bruce. One day when I worked at Gerber Auto Electric he came up with the nickname. He had been out cutting trees and he said, ‘You’re just about as tall as a tree stump. I’ve had Stump as a name since 1967.”
Wagner opened Stumpy’s after the previous owner decided to go out of business. Wagner approached the American Legion Post #491, the owners of building, about renting the space.
Roger Snell, adjutant for the Legion, said the group has invested considerable time and money to maintain and upgrade the building, which is commonly known as “The Vault.” Snell said it was once the Duncombe Savings Bank.
“We struck up a deal, so then that’s how I started a bar,” Wagner said. “After it closed I got more and more thinking, ‘I am going to do this.'”
Wagner said everything at the restaurant is homemade.
“We have some very unique food items. we do a lot of specialty stuff,” he said. “We do prime rib on a certain weekend. We do surf and turf the second weekend of the month.”
He’s proud of the buns offered to customers.
“We make our own buns and we brand them that says, “Stumpy’s Bar” right on top of the bun. In 2016 I was number three for best tenderloin in the state of Iowa. It’s thick and it’s more like a breaded pork chop. I make every one of them myself by hand. We make our own coleslaw, macaroni salad, our own ranch. We do as much homemade stuff as we can.”
Stumpy Bites are a unique creation.
“All they are is cheeseball size little pieces of tenderloin, breaded just like a tenderloin, its like an appetizer,” Wagner said.
Stumpy’s also offers home made pizzas.