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Belly Up

August 23, 2012
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The legacy lives on with Derry’s Lounge new owner

New Derry’s Lounge owner, Derik Doherty, stands among three relics of the old bar: an antique Schlitz lamp, a 30-year-old Schlitz bull bar light and a photo of Larry Derry, as one of “two great Americans” (along with John Wayne).

By Amber Williams

Derik Doherty bought the old Derry’s Lounge on Aug. 1 and “didn’t change a damn thing,” and he has no plans to. He likes it just the way it is, the way it always was, and, as far as he’s concerned, that’s the way it will always be.

“It’s always gonna be Connie and Larry’s bar, I’m just carrying on the torch,” Doherty said. “I’m very proud, and I’m very honored to carry on Connie and Larry’s tradition, as well as their name.”

Doherty started patronizing the bar and befriended its longtime owners, Connie and Larry Derry, six years ago. He liked the hideaway feel it offers, tucked behind the Days Inn, almost unnoticed next to the popular Daytona’s Sports Bar. But it’s far from forgotten. Not only does it have a truly loyal following of regulars, but in the decades the old married couple has owned it, Derry’s Lounge has made a few headlines — the proof is in newspaper clippings framed and mounted along one wall at the bar’s entrance.

Many Derry followers have known the couple for years, such as an old woman Doherty calls Mom, who says “any day above ground is a good day,” while yucking it up with the boys along the bar. And, Craig Johnson, who has bellied up with Connie and Larry “since it was Connie’s Hideaway 20 years ago” (at the current Jeannie’s Bottle), who learned of the place by tagging along with his father back then.

Derry’s Lounge has character — a legacy of character, in fact. And the hospitality is as genuine today as it has always been. Doherty has a policy of not turning away anyone (like myself the day I discovered the place) who wanders up to the windows that overlook the parking lot on the back side of the Urbandale hotel. The place didn’t look open, and that’s because it wasn’t, but before I made my way back to the car, Doherty popped his head out the door and said, “Come on in.”

He told me the story — the legend — of Connie and Larry and Derry’s Lounge while mopping the floor. I helped him move the bar stools, and he rewarded me with a couple shots of Rumple Mintz. Then, over a few extra-stiff drinks, we talked about a benefit for a 6-year-old boy named Cobie, who was entering his first chemotherapy treatment that very day. So I bought a $5 Team Cobie bracelet to show my support. I knew within minutes that this was one bar owner who sincerely cares about the integrity of the Derry name, his employees (one of whom is related to Cobie) and his patrons whom he treats as old friends (because they are).

This is one bar I almost didn’t want to write about, because, as Craig Johnson puts it, “It’s Des Moines’ best kept secret.” CV

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Derry’s Lounge (a.k.a. Connie’s Lounge)

4845 Merle Hay Road, Suite B

(515) 278-2810

Hours: Mon.-Sat., 5 p.m.-2 a.m.; Sun., 4 p.m.-2 a.m.

Happy Hour: All day, drink specials change daily

Capacity: about 70

Team Cobie Benefit: Learn how to help by emailing cobiesdad84@yahoo.com



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