Century-old Templeton bar to be torn down, rebuilt
April 23, 2014
The building currently home to The Still in Templeton will be torn down beginning Saturday to make room for a new facility. The building dates back to the late 1800s and will see its last drink served Friday night. The Irlbeck family hopes to reopen the bar in a new building late this summer to celebrate their 10th anniversary.
It has been standing for 133 years, serving as a bar for more than a century, said Shell Irlbeck, co-owner of The Still bar and restaurant in Templeton.
But on Saturday, the building will come down.
"It's tearing itself down," she said. "We just can't put a Band-Aid on it anymore."
The Still is a family operation, owned by Shell and husband Gary "Rooster" Irlbeck, with daughters Nicci and Samantha working as waitress and bartender, respectively, and Shell's mother, Carol Schoeppner, baking all the homemade desserts - everyone who eats dinner at the restaurant gets a piece of chocolate cake, one of her famous banana bars, or another delicacy at no charge.
The restaurant also employs a few family friends and a couple of local high school students as a dishwashers.
The operation is currently run out of two buildings that have been joined. But where the restaurant side is built of brick, the bar side is built of wood - the walls have started to bow, and the floor has started to tilt.
The bar side was a hotel and saloon when it opened in 1882. Other than a brief stint solely as a clothing store, owned by Clemens Penkhus from 1898 to 1912, the building has always included some sort of bar or tavern - even while it also served as a barbershop and bowling alley, according to Templeton's centennial book.
The history book includes no mention of the bar as a speak-easy during Prohibition, but legal beer licenses were issued immediately before and after that period. In 1939, it became Nick's Place, owned by Nick Ohlinger. In 1954, Bud Ohlinger took over, and it became Bud's Tavern.
When it first became legal to sell liquor by the drink in Iowa in July 1963, Bud received the first liquor license, serving the first drink to then-Mayor Lambert J. Greteman, according to the book.
In 1967, ownership transferred to Sam Schrad, and the bar became Sam's Tavern. In 1970, it was purchased by Harold "Hap" Walsh, who became the first to unite the bar with the building next door - which had started as a plumbing shop in the 1940s - when he remodeled it to make it a lounge for his establishment. When she was 21, Shell opened her first restaurant, The Lunchbox, in that space, leasing from the Walsh family for about four years.
In 1992, the building was purchased by Don and Glenda Irlbeck, Rooster's brother and sister-in-law, who owned it for about 10 years before Glenda was killed in a car accident, he said.
The bar was purchased, but the owner let the liquor license run out, Shell said. So in 2004, she and her husband bought it and took over.
"I'd run into people at the post office or at the grocery in Carroll," Shell said. "It wasn't right Templeton didn't have a place to gather."
"Every day was like Sunday," Rooster added. "No one was around."
The bar at The Still is full of history - the bar lining the back wall is part of the original saloon, the green wall around the storage area was the wall of the barbershop, and the remaining walls are adorned with Shell's father's beer can collection.
For the Irlbeck family, the bar is also full of memories.
"We grew up in here," Nicci said, recalling visiting her aunt and uncle at work as a child. Shell remembers visiting the bar with her grandfather and watching him play pinochle.
"It will be a very, very sad day when it starts going down," Shell said.
A few regulars plan to divide the existing bar into pieces for their homes and garages. Shell and Rooster plan to reincorporate the original bar, the barbershop walls and assorted memorabilia back into the new building.
But instead of a straight bar as is currently in place, the new building will feature a horseshoe bar. The doors will be built into a double enclosure so cold wind doesn't blow into the main room whenever a patron enters or exits.
Shell also hopes to include an area with a shuffleboard, a giant Jenga set and additional seating. Schoeppner Construction has been hired for the project.
Friday will be the last day for the historic bar - demolition of the building will start Saturday. The new building should be ready and open by the end of the summer - hopefully in time for the Irlbecks to celebrate their 10th anniversary as business owners in August.
They plan to continue operating the restaurant and bar for the duration of the construction - both in the restaurant side - as long as demolition does not cut off the water supply to the building, Shell said. The restaurant will serve grill foods only - no buffet.
"This (bar and restaurant) has turned into more than we thought it would," Rooster said. "The people in town have been good to us."
Follow the progress on The Still's Facebook page: facebook.com/thestillintempleton.
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