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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

New bistro/gift shop opens in Alta

Friday, September 28, 2012

'Hoodlebug' Grand Opening Saturday

Lisa Hare, Manager of The Hoodlebug, stands by the customer lounge area of the business.
All right readers, today's Final Jeopardy answer is :

Gifts and Curiosities - A nice gift shop is located in the old depot building, part of the newly opened Hoodlebug business in Alta.
"A small passenger train car, or a combination bistro, gift shop and small meeting room"

And the question is - "What is a Hoodlebug?"

Yes, you read that correctly. A "hoodlebug" is indeed a slang term for a small passenger train car that once provided commuter service in parts of the United States, normally in rural areas between towns or from towns to factories or mines before the advent of bus service.

The Hoodlebug offers many services, as indicated on the sign out front.
Hoodlebugs were also used for school students before the widespread use of school buses, and the term appears to have been limited to use in the mid-Atlantic and Midwestern states. The word may be a variation of "doodlebug," a railroad term for certain types of small, self-propelled cars, but that is just a guess.

Hoodlebug, however, is also the name of a new business which opened quietly on Monday, September 24 in Alta, and will have a Grand Opening celebration this Saturday, September 29th.

The Hoodlebug is owned by Cindy Pedersen of Alta, who bought an old train passenger car and depot without hesitation about one year ago because she knew exactly how to put them use. "I didn't want to see Alta's Main Street die," said Pedersen, " and I wanted to make sure Alta had somewhere fun to be."

Pedersen, who has been involved in food service for 30 years is currently the Food Service Manager for the Storm Lake School District. She said that she has always dreamed of having her own coffee/bistro business, and her supportive family encouraged her to "follow her dream."

The "dining car" - Here's a photo of the outside of The Hoodlebug train car,which offers dining with a view.
After networking with other store owners across Iowa to find what works and what doesn't, Pedersen contacted The Iowa Lakes Corridor, who helped her with her initial business plan, helping her understand financially what was feasible and what was not.

The passenger train and depot building she purchased once operated as The Depot Restaurant, which closed several years ago. Pedersen and her husband, with the help of other family members, spent a lot of time and effort over the past few months remodeling and renovating the former restaurant, and they were working right up until Sunday night to enable them to open for business as scheduled on Monday morning.

The booths in the bistro section of The Hoodlebug are nicely padded.
The train car portion of the Hoodlebug is a bistro, where diners can choose from a variety of menu items. They plan to open at 7 a.m. for the breakfast crowd and will have breakfasts, pastries and coffee available, along with free wi-fi for those who wish to keep in touch with the outside world while literally watching the local world go by on Highway 7, which is located just a few yards away.

The Hoodlebug will also be open for lunch, and then the kitchen will close from 1:30 - 4:30 p.m. to get ready for dinner patrons. Manager Lisa Hare says the current plan is to close at 7 p.m. on weekdays, though she says that they are still in the mode of "seeing what works and what doesn't," and that the schedule may change at some point in the future. The current plan also calls for The Hoodelbug to be open from 7 a.m. - 5 p.m. on Saturdays, with the kitchen closing at 1:30, and to be closed on Sundays. The menu will include several items not often found around these parts, along with some more standard fare.

The Hoodlebug also has a coffee shop, located off the main dining area, a lounging area with comfortable couches on which patrons can sit and chat while they drink their coffee, and a gift shop,which is located in the old depot building. A variety of items will be available for purchase in the Gift Shop. In addition, the Hoodlebug will also have items such as tablecloths and settings which people can rent for wedding rehearsals or other large functions, and the building itself will also be available for small group meetings. Contact Lisa Hare at 712-200-1987 for details.

Hare said that they welcome feedback about the business, and that customer service is very important to them. The Hoodelbug has a staff of 15-20 employees, including High School students as well as adults.

One thing that probably will not happen at the Hoodlebug Bistro? A customer being asked to leave. The business actually encourages customers to linger as long as they like, as long as they are not being disruptive.

The Grand Opening at the Hoodlebug is set for this Saturday, September 29th. The business is located just off Highway 7, at the north end of Alta's Main Street. The Red Ribbon Cutting is scheduled to take place at 6 p.m.

In the Homecoming parade - The Hoodlebug wasn't able to open in time for the Alta-Aurelia Homecoming Parade last week, but that didn't stop them from being in the parade.

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