food & drink

Belly Up

By Jared Curtis


The Wooden Nickel Bar & Grill

Bondurant mainstay is worth the trip

A few miles outside the metro is the small town of Bondurant, where patrons can enjoy a cheap drink and some tasty sandwiches at a town staple, The Wooden Nickel Bar & Grill. It’s been open for decades and the establishment draws customers in, no matter if there is a roof over their heads or not.

“The building opened up as Butler’s Grocery and Gas back in the 1940s,” said owner Dennis Tollerud. “A friend of mine owned the place when it was called Andy’s Lounge, but he got sick, and I took it over in 1996.”

Even though Tollerud had never owned a bar, he was up to the challenge.

“I had never thought about owning a bar,” he said. “I just did it, and two roofs later, I’m still here.”

The Wooden Nickel has had a habit of losing its roof during bad storms.

“The first time the roof blew off was in 2001,” he said. “Then it blew off again earlier this year.”

Even without a roof, customers would still pack the place. The bar is deceivingly bigger than it looks from the outside, and numerous tables and booths spread out the large interior. Any day you can find regulars chatting away over cans of beer and half-pound sandwiches. Locals make up the majority of the customer base, but the bar draws people from all over the metro and beyond.

“We have all types of customers who stop in, and everyone mixes well together,” said bartender Rhonda West.

Happy Hour runs Monday through Saturday from 4 to 6 p.m. and offers 25 cents off all drinks. But with $2 draws, $2.50 cans, $3.25 mini pitchers and $5.75 pitchers every day, it’s like the Wooden Nickel offers Happy Hour all the time.

“We always try to keep our prices low to say thank you to all of our customers,” Tollerud said.

The bar offers five beers on tap and more than 15 in bottles and cans. If beer isn’t your thing, try a house specialty shot, the “Sneaky Fucker.”

“It’s sweet, but it sneaks up on you and packs a punch,” West laughs. “I haven’t seen anyone drink more than three or four of them.”

Patrons might stop in for the cheap drinks and laid-back atmosphere, but they stay for the food. Tollerud handles the kitchen and serves tasty burgers, sandwiches and homemade pizzas.

“We kind of made up the menu as we went,” he says. “I use some secret seasonings on the burgers, and I buy the meat fresh every day.”

Although he never set out to own a bar, Tollerud has enjoyed it. He named the bar The Wooden Nickel, as a tribute to “an old southside bar I used to hang out at.”

“I like what I’m doing, but I’ve been here 14 years, so I better like it,” he laughs. “I have multiple generations of customers, and it’s great to see kids grow up eating here.”

Even with so many bars in the metro, The Wooden Nickel is worth the trip.

“We have an amazing staff and offer a cozy and comfortable atmosphere,” West said. “We have friendly customers, great food and no matter if you stop in during the day or night, you’re going to enjoy yourself.” CV


Caption: Owner Dennis Tollerud pours a drink at The Wooden Nickel Bar & Grill, 106 Hubbell Road N.E., Bondurant. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 11 to 2 a.m. (kitchen is open 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m.).

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