Diane Bohaty is working around the clock.
Her hope: Transform the former Duering 5th Street Pub and Grill and open her new restaurant, BBQ, Burgers & More, by June 20.
The David City and Boise State University grad has been all over the restaurant business but has never owned her own place. Bohaty has worked in bakeries, country clubs and most recently as a chef at Hy-Vee in Columbus. In April, Bohaty purchased Duering’s.
“I thought it seemed like a great idea,” she said. “The first time I walked in I was like, ‘Oh, I think this will work.’ The next visit I had a few friends come out who were helping me with the construction and my other friend decorates and I thought it would be easy to fix up.”
The ongoing Downtown Improvement Project didn’t bother her either. She said people will find their way to the restaurant if they like the food or really want barbecue.
The location was well known as the site of Thomas Tavern, which closed in 2011. The bar was a staple in downtown David City and had been operated by the Thomas family since 1888. Duerings installed a Beatles theme, but the business closed in April 2013.
Despite sitting vacant for four years, the tavern was already close to full compliance with fire and health codes unlike other locations Bohaty had looked at. But she is putting in 12 hour days to get everything ready. And opening day is still up in the air.
“It was so tight (in the kitchen) that the cooler doors wouldn’t open all the way and I needed to add equipment. So we had to move it out and build a half wall so I could put everything back there,” Bohaty said.
Barbecue became a passion for Bohaty when she moved back from Boise, Idaho.
“I came back here (from Boise) and I bought my first Traeger, a wood pellet grill, and I decided that I really liked to barbecue. So I got more into it and got a nicer smoker after that,” Bohaty said. “We’re not quite in the South, but I think barbecue is becoming more popular around. I see it on menus everywhere. It’s on Dairy Queen’s menu and Northside has some. But it’s becoming more popular.”
Bohaty’s interest in barbecue sparked as she competed in the Butler County Fair Grill Off. She had fun spending the day smoking and talking to other competitors.
After the fair contest, she entered into a 2016 Kansas City Barbecue Society sanctioned contest. That meant competing as a team against major pit teams. Her small grill and smoker wouldn’t cut it, so she borrowed one.
“I said I can’t do it, I don’t have a big enough smoker. Like, I could fit a brisket on it,” she laughed. “I did not get last, I got about five from last. So not horrible considering I had no idea what I was doing and I only planned to enter two categories.”
Bohaty was encouraged to join the Greater Omaha Barbecue Society. She received a lot of advice, encouragement and support from pitmasters like Kelly Wertz of 4 Legs Up BBQ and Rod Grey of Pellet Envy.
In a state where cattle outnumbers people nearly 4 to 1, beef is something that Nebraskans know and love. And Bohaty wants to keep as much of her food from Nebraska as possible.
“Anything that I can get local, I will,” she said.
Pork, which is a huge part of barbecue, will be difficult to find locally in large amounts but beef and vegetables will be easier to locate. She is building connections to local farmers to get her sides from the area.
And while trying to get her food sourced, Bohaty is trying to nail down how much food she will need.
“I’m debating (how much),” she said. “In Fremont, I think they do 25 pounds of pork butt a day. I think that will be too much for here but maybe to start, when it’s busier, we will do that.”
Even the decor of the restaurant is staying local, taking from the Cordon Racing Stables in Silver Creek.
“It’s going to be old west decor. We went and raided Condon Racing Stables’ tack room and they gave them to me on loan. Saddles, two pairs of chaps, bridles, bits and I think we are going to put tin stars up on the walls,” Bohaty said.
Nearly everything Bohaty serves will be cooked on her cherry red smoker behind of the restaurant. The menu will start small but grow as she sees fit.
“The menu will emphasize house smoked pork, brisket and ribs with freshly made sides like baked beans, coleslaw, in season corn on the cob, potato salad and baked potatoes,” she said.
And, of course, burgers and fries are available.
BBQ, Burgers & More will be open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Visitors this fall will notice one throwback to the old days of the Thomas Tavern: The restaurant will stay open late after high school sports contests.
Here’s a tale of two trucks, or rather two trucking companies. On Monday morning, four identical rock hauling trucks rolled north on Nebraska 15(Fourth Street) and turned east Iowa Street, then followed the construction detour north on Sixth Street.
Passing in the span of a half hour, each had a blue cab, pulling a pup trailer.
On the north end of town, another company’s rock hauling truck came south on the highway and turned west on O Street, headed past the Butler County Fairgrounds and turned south on County Road M. It came back to the highway at County Road 34, past the David City Cemetery. By doing so, the driver encountered two stop signs instead of five stop signs on Sixth Street and the stoplight on D Street.
The Nebraska Department of Roads installed electronic signs stating “No thru truck traffic in David City." They appear to be working as observers along the route noted a “significantly lower" number of trucks. Local drivers continue to be surprised by the four-way stop signs on Sixth Street, between Iowa and D streets, and many drivers are opting to stay away from the detour. Just to be clear, trucks that are hauling goods to local locations are exempt from the truck traffic ban.
The detour barricades went up on Nebraska 15 on the afternoon of June 1, and it wasn’t until that evening that the electronic boards went up.
The bottom line is that stopping a truck driver from ignoring the boards isn’t realistic.
“We are getting conversations with the Department of Roads to put more signs up as they indicated they would. Hopefully that would direct the semis around the city,” said Al Hottovy, project manager for Leo A Daly. “As for enforcement, there is no enforcement on a detour.”
Hottovy pointed out that temporary no parking were put up, and speed limit signs received orange tags telling drivers that fines double in construction zones.
“But to prevent somebody from coming through David City I don't know of any enforcement,” he said.
Early on, Butler County Sheriff Marcus Siebken urged drivers to use caution on gravel county roads, especially after rainfall. He also said that speeding violations around construction crews result in double fine amounts.
"We get phone calls daily about people running stop signs," the sheriff said. "We've probably written 25 citations for stop sign violations. And warnings, 50 to 75. You've got to come to a complete stop."
Siebken said he's glad that the truck flow is letting up. Safety is the main concern.
"People need to slow down," he said. "Especially with all the kids running around this summer."
Drivers need to be patient, the sheriff said. "It’s an inconvenience for everybody right now, but we just have to deal with it."
Last week's dry weather provided a big boost to crews ripping out the old highway surface. A storm blew through Monday morning, but only it was only enough to kill the dust for a while.
“Construction is coming along pretty fast and hopefully you'll start seeing some pipe being installed beginning this week around A Street,” he said.
On Monday, an excavator made quick work of the removal of sidewalks along the highway.
See the latest newsletter from Leo A Daly regarding the Nebraska 15 renovation on page A7.