By Emily Bialkowski
If nostalgia and keeping small town Main Street alive mean something to you, then perhaps it’s time to check out Fetketter Hollow in Eitzen. The restaurant occupies the former Maggie’s Dugout building on East Main Street and is the brainchild of owner Dave Fetketter, who wants to own a business the community can be proud of.
Fetketter owned and operated Dave’s Border Town Inn in Eitzen in the mid ‘90s but relinquished that role after two and half years and continued down another career path – driving truck – for decades.
The toll of being away from home coupled with a smoldering appreciation for the restaurant business sent Fetketter back behind the grill a couple months ago.
“I enjoy cooking, myself, and I come from a background of restaurants. My great uncle, Henry Krueger, had a restaurant in Riceville, Iowa, and my dad smoked meats through the years,” Fetketter said. “It just kind of influences your life.”
Fetketter and his wife, Cheryl, researched different locations before settling in Eitzen. The combination of the building’s history and their familiarity with the area made the purchase meaningful for them.
“I’ve been through a lot of small towns that have died, and that’s something I hate to see,” Fetketter said. “People won’t have a reason to stop if you don’t have a restaurant.”
He also said Eitzen is a community that pulls together when necessary and that people were very supportive of his investment.
That investment included completely gutting the old Maggie’s, rewiring the building, redoing the interior and purchasing all new kitchen equipment.
“It was a lot more than we planned,” Fetketter admitted, but the payoff has been apparent with solid crowds.
“Before we even opened, people were really looking for a new place,” Fetketter said, adding that when customers stop in they “seem wowed” by the fresh atmosphere.
All the atmosphere in the world won’t make up for poor food, and that’s why Fetketter focuses on his menu and doing a few things really well, like chicken.
Broasted chicken is available Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Thursday is homemade pizza day, Friday features fish and Saturday’s special is prime rib.
The Hollow opens at 9 a.m. and draws a significant coffee crowd before lunch gets off the ground at 11 a.m. Dinner begins at 5 p.m., and the restaurant is open every day.
Fetketter said a focused menu approach has a proven track record.
“We have some pretty good mentors here with Duane and Linda Covey. They live a couple houses down, and they owned Little Miami (in Freeburg). They had a limited menu, and it seemed to work well for them,” he said.
Despite all the positive feedback, Fetketter said owning your own business is “overwhelming,” but he’s happy some family members have taken an interest in the business. Both his stepson, E.J. Rinuce, and niece, Rachel Burrichter, can be seen helping out.
“I’m hoping we can build something here,” he said. “We’re not looking to make a million dollars; we just want to succeed and make a living and build something that the community is proud of.”
To find out more, stop by 400 E. Main St. or call 507-495-3363.