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Lynn’s on Merle Hay


“Once you’re here, you’re family.”

Stacy Wolf is co-owner of Lynn’s on Merle Hay.

Take a drive north on Merle Hay Road through Johnston, and you’ll find old buildings mixed with new. A new Fareway and a Casey’s sit alongside staples such as Van Dees and Greenbriar. Another 26-year institution is Lynn’s on Merle Hay. The sign outside says, “Ice Cold Beer,” but don’t let that fool you. There’s much more than beer inside.

The bar isn’t dive-like, it’s not industrial, nor does it resemble a chain restaurant. It has a worn, cozy charm all its own. The décor is a rustic-cabin-type feel, with log walls and a fireplace. A nearly U-shaped bar, pool table, patio and games complete the place.

Thursday night’s crowd included a gamut of friendly patrons: several claiming to be “local Johnstonites,” a man celebrating his 69th birthday, families and couples.

A black-and-white photocopied dinner menu folded in half contains the highpoint of the bar’s offerings. The evening’s nightly dinner special was a 12-ounce pork chop for $10.45. A grilled, high-quality, well-seasoned Iowa chop was served with two sides. Friday nights pack the place with $2.50 burgers. Lunch is served weekdays and breakfast on weekends.

Stacy Wolf and her husband, Scott — along with Lynn and Chuck Wells — have co-owned the place (which was formerly Pickett’s) for three years.

A moose head mounted on a wall is a Johnston legend. The locals claim the moose’s attire changes frequently, including lingerie dangling from its antlers.

“I heard the moose was strapped on the front of a vehicle or on a float at one of the first Green Days parades. When the parade was over, the person drove to the place and dropped off the moose,” says Stacy. “It’s been here ever since.”

Stacy efficiently ran the whole place, waiting on customers, tending bar and delivering food. A buzzer rings behind the bar when the food in the kitchen is ready. Simple enough.

Stacy worked at the bar for three years before they co-purchased Lynn’s. She is a long-time Johnston resident and says the locals continue to come.

“I’ve lived on the same street for 26 years and have met more of my neighbors in the bar than I’ve met living on that street,” she says.

Stacy says it’s a safe family spot, where people bring kids and everyone gets along.

“We look out for each other. The neighborhood bar is like a family. That’s why I love this place,” she says. “Once you’re here, you’re family.” ♦

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