May Spotlight: Roadhouse Bar and Grill
By McKenzie Fischer
For the month of May, the Wabasso EDA, Commercial Club, and Redwood Area Development Corporation are highlighting the Roadhouse Bar and Grill, a unique motorcycle themed restaurant in downtown Wabasso that has much more to offer than just a fully loaded menu. Diane and her staff are gearing up for their infamous roll ins which will start on June 6 and follow every Tuesday until the end of August.
You might remember the Roadhouse Bar and Grill as Shooters, previously owned by Scott Brinkman, or even further back as Dick’s Bar which was owned by Dick and Carol Atkins. Diane Arends and her husband Clay decided to take the plunge and purchase the restaurant in the fall of 2005. The Roadhouse is now owned and operated by Diane and her two children Bonnie Ambriz and Josh Hoffenkamp, along with other family members and friends.
Having had previous experience in the restaurant and retail industry, Diane knew that she enjoyed working in customer service but quickly realized that she loved the creativity aspect of owning a business even more. Once she and Clay—her biggest inspiration and supporter—purchased the Roadhouse, they traveled around to other car and motorcycle themed restaurants and attended other roll ins in order to gather ideas and make the Roadhouse their own.
Diane got right to work on crafting her famous menu which now features over 150 burgers and sandwiches, all of which are named after cars or motorcycles! They even have a burger so massive that it requires a butcher’s knife staked through the center of it in order to hold it together. The Supercharged Night Train which has now become sort of a man vs food challenge comes with four ½ lb. burgers topped with various cheeses, pork fritter, BBQ pork, grilled chicken breast, bacon, pork riblet, Canadian bacon, chicken burger, brat patty, and chorizo served between two grilled cheese sandwiches! This sandwich burger combination weighs in at over five pounds and has been completed by only one person so far.
Diane and the rest of her crew love to work on finding new burger and sandwich combinations and rotate out the ones that aren’t as popular in order to keep her customers happy, which is her number one priority. In addition to the 150 sandwiches and burgers, her menu now has even more to offer with a variety of wraps, salads, quesadillas, pizzas, flatbreads, roll ups, paninis, and margarita meals! The Roadhouse also serves breakfast Monday through Saturday. There is definitely something for everybody to enjoy at the Roadhouse.
Once Diane and her husband had established their menu, they began to work on planning their roll ins which have proved to be very successful for the Roadhouse. “We have seen about a 10% growth each year in our business, especially the roll ins. When we started, we maybe had between 700 and 1,000 people come out each week. We now see around 3,000 to 3,500 people at some of our roll ins,” said Diane. “We have even had people join us from as far as California and Arizona. We also can’t forget about the ‘Corvette Club’ which is a group of people from the cities that come down to visit during the roll ins.”
On top of the roll ins that the crew at the Roadhouse plans for every summer, they still remain busy during other times of the year doing catering for weddings along with other various events. The Roadhouse works with the Lutheran Social Services to provide over 150 seniors with boxed meals for lunch during the week. Through hard working volunteers they are able to deliver meals to over twelve towns in Redwood County. The Roadhouse also does events such as Gun’s and Diamond’s bingo, trivia nights, concerts, and murder mystery dinners which have been recently added and are a huge hit! Diane enjoys giving back to the community to thank them for allowing her to run the events that she does and as a result has hosted many fundraising events for various organizations throughout the Wabasso area.
When I asked Diane how her business has evolved over the years and where she was looking to take the business in the future, she eagerly replied “We have worked hard in the past to remodel and revamp areas of our business such as the patio area and the inside dining area to better accommodate our customers.” Since she and Clay have purchased the business, she has purchased the two additional spaces next door and combined / remodeled them in order to provide more space for customers and to be able to host larger private parties. They have also expanded their kitchen in order to keep up with the demand of the business. “As for the future, I am looking to expand our business by opening up a car and motorcycle themed motel/bed and breakfast near the restaurant. I think it would be beneficial for us as well as the town to have a fun but inexpensive place where people could stay during big events that happen in town,” said Diane.
If you’re looking for something to do this summer, the Roadhouse also hosts a street concert which falls on July 29th this year. “We booked Little Texas and Forgotten Highway for our concert and we’re super excited to see everyone come down to enjoy themselves for a night out,” stated Diane. If you received or won free tickets through contests last year for Darryl Worley, they will be honored at the door for this year’s concert.
After all the years of owning the Roadhouse, I asked Diane if she had a specific memory that stood out to her among the rest. Diane chuckled a little, “There are a few really good memories I have made throughout the years including many of the benefits we’ve hosted for others but one of the best memories would have to be when we had a pitchfork fondue festival and roasted these big steaks in huge pots of oil out on the patio.”
Diane continues to live out the legacy of her late husband’s passion through her business and roll ins and wants to let the community and her customers know that she is extremely appreciative of the support that she has received throughout the years. If you haven’t yet, make sure you get out and travel to one of the roll ins to check out the rows of bikes and fancy cars on display and grab yourself one of the many burgers on the Roadhouse’s menu. If you’re looking to go one step further and join her team, she is looking for wait staff and cooks. You can find Diane and her team at the Roadhouse Bar and Grill Monday through Saturday working tirelessly to provide you with the best dining experience possible.