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The price is right at Mickey Finn’s


Bartender Mike Folsom demonstrates the deafening bell-ringing touchdown tradition with a heavy metal style all his own.

Bartender Mike Folsom demonstrates the deafening bell-ringing touchdown tradition with a heavy metal style all his own.

If America is the melting pot of the world, then it might be safe to say that Mickey Finn’s is the melting pot of the Des Moines metro. The obvious first impression is that it’s an Irish bar — if the name above the door doesn’t give it away, perhaps the rock painted green with the words “Blarney Stone” outside provides a second clue. Inside are a few more such hints hanging on the walls along with a hand-painted Herky and Cy in staunch tough-guy poses on the other side of a couple pool tables.

“This is the unofficial ‘viewing area’ for Iowa games,” explains 10-year bartender Mike Folsom with air quotes. “But we take care of everybody — Iowa, Iowa State, Northern Iowa, Drake. Every time someone’s team scores, they ring the bell. And if you’re head is anywhere near that thing, it can penetrate the ear drums,” Folsom said referring to a Bare Knuckle Stout promo prop hanging on the wall near the bartender’s station.

“We also have the Sunday NFL ticket,” Folsom added, (as well as a personal flat screen TV in each booth along the back wall).

But even more than football, the subject of war ruffled more responses from the age-diverse crowd that gradually filled the bar on a Wednesday afternoon — not the politics of war, but the people.

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“We’re kind of an old school bar. A lot of these guys served our country.” Folsom said. “If you’re a veteran and you served our country and you come in here on Veterans Day, you get your first drink on the house. We have a very heartfelt connection to our military. We’ll buy you a drink, shake your hand and tip our hat to you to say thank you for your service.

“Jeff served during Vietnam, not overseas, but he served this country as a Marine, and our cook is a 60-year-old badass Navy man.”

Jeff Dutenhoeffer is the owner who has made his bar a nexus of his passions: Ireland, the U.S. military and Iowa’s college football. But Folsom’s not Irish. He’s Italian. You can’t tell by his name or by his various tattoos and piercings or by the rage metal he plays on the jukebox, but not long into a conversation with Folsom and it’s without question his family hails from the original south-side Des Moines Italians. His use of otherwise cliché expressions like “feget abat it” and his flailing hand gestures as he talks about his grandmother’s exquisite homemade meat balls removes any doubt.

If ever you’re curious enough to check out the old haunt in what the belly-uppers consider “east Urbandale,” listen to Folsom’s stories, but don’t listen to him when it comes to the  “black-toothed grin” (a shot of Canadian Club and Coke). It’s not good.

What is good, though, is winning free drinks during a 10 a.m. “Price Is Right” drinking game with bartender Barb Werning, where “the new people always win,” she says, and the Make-A-Wish fundraiser beer garden the bar hosts every Fourth of July, where both Bud and Miller donate a keg and U.S. Foods donates brats, dogs and burgers all for free will donations.

“There are so many charities, but the Make-A-Wish one is the most straight forward, legitimate one out there,” Folson flailed. “And it all goes straight to the kids. Feget abat everything else.” CV

Mickey Finn’s
7020 Douglas Ave., Urbandale
HOURS: Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-2 a.m.; Sat.-Sun. 11 a.m.-2 a.m. (Open at 10 a.m. for Saturday Hawkeye games)
HAPPY HOUR: 4-7 p.m. Mon.-Fri., Wednesday all-day specials
ENTERTAINMENT: Karaoke Fri. 8 p.m.-1 a.m.; Trivia Wed. 7-9 or 10 p.m.


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