Trail town bars Mudder’s to open, Kickstand to close

Larissa Briles, right, tended bar in the waning days of the Kickstand tavern in Perry. The Kickstand closed in March 2016.

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Mudder’s opened in 1987. It will reopen in early April under new ownership.

Minburn will gain a watering hole next month, and Perry will lose one when Mudder’s reopens under new ownership after a year-long hiatus and the Kickstand closes after three years in business.

For nearly 30 years, Ron Merical of Minburn owned and operated Mudder’s bar at 104 Fourth St. in Minburn. The building was built in 1969 and operated for a time as a motorcycle shop and later as the Minburn Mini Market.

Mudder’s tavern opened in 1983, and Merical bought the business in 1987.

The tavern closed in 2015 and has now been bought by Amy and Scott Culp of Adel. Amy has spent the last year operating Crossing Bistro and Brew in the Minburn Depot at 210 Fourth St.

Kathy Bice, right, and Amy Culp are the owners and operators of Crossings, the new bistro-and-brew spot in the Minburn Depot. The mother and daughter-in-law teamed up in the venture with the help of the Minburn Betterment Committee.
Kathy Bice, right, and Amy Culp opened Crossings Bistro and Brew in May 2015 in the restored Minburn Depot.

“I’m looking more for the bar scene,” Culp said Tuesday, “something with a pool table and juke box.”¬†She said they aim to open in early April after some remodeling of the 47-year-old Mudder’s.

“For a long time Ron didn’t want to sell to anyone,” Culp said, “but we’re old friends, almost like family, so he was happy to see it stay in local hands.” She said they will keep the name of Mudder’s for the business.

The Culps also bought the nearby house at 424 Locust St. Amy Culp said they intend to demolish the house and build a large patio area on the north side of Mudder’s, along with more ample parking.

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The house at 424 Locust St. in Minburn will be demolished to make way for a patio and parking lot.

Culp said business at Crossings in the Minburn Depot has been good all year. She said she expects a new tenant will step up and do well in the 100-year-old depot, which was moved in 2014 to its present location and restored to the tune of $1.2 million, a project largely financed by federal and state historic restoration tax credits.

“Business has been great,” she said. “The kitchen was always busy. I have a 6-year-old at home or else I’d try to run both places.”

The Kickstand bar will close at the end of March.
The Kickstand bar will close at the end of March.

The Kickstand bar at 1211 Willis Ave. is owned by Natoma “Toni” Grim of Adel but was operated for many years by Doug and Marvel Benedict as the Rockin’ Horse bar. The contract on the business was forfeited in 2013 after the Benedicts’ deaths.

Doug and Marvel’s daughter, Nancy Fessler of Perry, changed the name to the Kickstand and has been running it since she lost her folks. She is now at a fork in the road in her life’s journey and will give up the business at the end of March.

Nancy Fessler
Nancy Fessler

“I have enjoyed my 14 years of bartending and making a ‘family’ there,” Fessler said last week. “But with sadness in my heart, it is time for me to move on with my journey.”

Fessler said the Rockin’ Horse was a big part of her life.

“I will miss it all,” she said. “I am not gonna lie.” She said her children are now “older and in activities, and I want my nights open to be a mom. So to the day world I go,” said said, laughing out loud.

Bob Knisley of Perry, a local historian and habitue of Perry’s nightclubs, said the building housing the Kickstand was known as the Chocolate Shop in times now rapidly slipping from human memory.

Fessler said a big farewell party is planned for this Saturday afternoon.

“We will be saying, ‘Goodbye,’ and throwing one hell of a party,” she said.

The Kickstand and Rockin Horse welcomed many cool cats over the years.
The Kickstand and Rockin Horse welcomed many cool cats over the years.


  1. Geez? this is great! I remember ‘Scottie’ Culp. Glad to see it stay local. I’d heard John Baker (Jr.) had thought about reopening it.


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