WABASSO - The Roll-In at the Roadhouse Bar & Grill in Wabasso has continually proven to be a top destination for bikers and car enthusiasts, significantly boosting their business.
What began with around 500 locals enjoying burgers on a wooden deck has grown to a summer-long event with around 2,500 guests, great music and various prizes for registrants.
"It has grown quite a bit," said co-owner Diane Arends. The mailing list is ever-expanding, she said, with about 1,800 on record right now. This year, she said, they are also expecting more show cars and muscle cars. In the past, the only guests were motorcyclists.
Photo by Katy Palmer
The Roadhouse Bar & Grill in Wabasso hosted dozens of bikers and car enthusiasts last Tuesday during its sixth annual Roll-In, which takes place at 5 p.m. every other Tuesday from June 1 through Sept 7.
This year from June 1-Sept 7, every other Tuesday, the Roadhouse Bar & Grill is home to countless bikers and car enthusiasts for the sixth annual Roll-In, arriving from as far away as Alexandria, New London, and Emmetsburg, Iowa.
As usual, bikes of all kinds flood Main Street just before the event starts at 5 p.m. Some guests come early simply to avoid a long line at the burger bar.
"The food line is usually out into the street," said Sue Steffl, a biker from Springfield. She and Doug Marz ride their Harley Davidson down as often as they can from Springfield.
"It's gradually grown and grown," said Marz.
The Roadhouse Roll-In has obviously become a success.
The idea started when Diane Arends, along with her husband and co-owner, Clay, thought a Roll-In would be a great addition to their restaurant, since she enjoyed going to similar events in the area. The Arends wanted to provide their customers with a "fun and interesting evening," she said.
Diane Arends was able to gain ideas from visiting other events and collecting comment cards during the first few Roll-Ins.
The comment cards helped shape the event, she said, allowing the restaurant to cater to the guests' feedback.
Sponsors from the area chipped in, helping to make the idea a reality and providing bike- and car-related prizes for the guests.
The Roll-In was created to bring families and friends together to enjoy food and music, she said, and that is exactly what it does. "Some people even dress up to match their car or bike," Diane Arends said.
Although linking up with other bikers is definitely a key part of the event, it is not the only draw.
"The food is so good," Marz said. Other customers agreed that the Roadhouse Bar & Grill burgers provide a delicious meal after a nice bike ride.
The Roll-In burger bar has been the main attraction since the event was started and is now bigger than ever.
"This is all expanded," said Steffl as she pointed to the new burger bar area on the concrete patio.
A bigger event allows for bigger music. Big Mike Entertainment has provided the music for the past couple of Roll-Ins, creating a more professional environment compared to that of live bands.
"It has helped my business a lot," Mike said.
The growth in the amount of customers at the Roll-In is due to great promotion - radio ads, T-shirts and word-of-mouth - have all helped wrangle up bikers and car enthusiasts from around the area.
The regulars know many of the customers, both friends and family, that come out for the night. However, there are plenty of new faces every summer, as well.
Friends recommended the Roll-In to newcomers, Mike and Jessica Fox and Gail Carr, from Marshall. The Foxes and Carr decided to come out and see what all the rave was about, enjoying the experience so far.
As the years pass, the Roll-Ins become more polished. Krista Larson, a Roadhouse "Hottie," said that the Roll-In has "grown like crazy." Larson said the Roadhouse Bar & Grill has expanded their grills, bar, and patio to accommodate the growth, adding that the Roll-In runs more smoothly now.
Diane Arends said she plans to continue to host the Roll-In at the Roadhouse Bar & Grill until there is no longer enough interest to sustain it.