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Everyone's a big deal at Big Deal's Bar and Grill

By Jean Caspers-Simmet

Date Modified: 05/14/2013 8:33 AM

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ROCKFORD, Iowa —With the Shell Rock River bridge closed until October because of construction, it's a trek to get between east and west Rockford these days. Big Deal's Bar and Grill is doing what it can to save residents a 15 minute trip if they live on the west side of the river and need groceries.

In addition to their usual tasty menu and full bar, they now stock bread, milk, eggs and butter and offer grab-and-go breakfast pizzas and sandwiches.

Lori and Denny Paulus and their son, Steve, opened Big Deal's in February 2012.

"I always wanted to own a bar," Steve said.

"I always wanted a restaurant," Lori said.

All work in food-related businesses. Steve is employed by Lakeside Hotel and Casino in Osceola. Denny is with Anderson-Erickson Dairy, and Lori runs the kitchen at Rudd-Rockford-Marble Rock School. Nick, Lori and Denny's younger son, recently became a partner. He is a supervisor for Balsam Co-op.

Lori is in charge of Big Deal's kitchen, Steve runs the front of the house and Denny works where needed. Nick's focus is marketing.

"Nick just knows what people want," Steve said. "He knows how to make a fun environment."

The family decided to go into business together after the previous owner closed, as did the establishment across the street. The local golf course also shut down.

"The town lost three business, and we didn't want to see that happen," Lori said.

The eatery across the street reopened shortly before Big Deal's, but the golf course is now farm land.

"The first year was a learning experience, but things are going good now," Steve said.

"We've got things figured out," Denny said.

The name, Big Deal's, is a play on words, Steve said.

"It's how we want everyone to feel when they come here," he added.

Steve said he also liked the movie, "Anchorman," where character Ron Burgundy is always talking about how he's "kind of a big deal."

Since the Paulus family have other jobs, Big Deal's employs seven and has others who come in for large events. They do parties, class reunions and other special events. They offer pool tournaments, karaoke and dancing with music provided by a D.J.

Nightly specials are offered In addition to a variety of burgers, sandwiches and dinners. Monday, it's a sirloin; Tuesday, a breaded tenderloin with a side; Wednesday, $2 off any burger; Thursday, all-you-can-eat Mexican buffet; Friday, a three-piece fish dinner.

Saturday night's special changes throughout the month with an Iowa crop the first week, a sirloin dinner the second, shrimp and ribeyes the third, prime rib the fourth and walleye when there's a fifth.

Happy Deals including a child-size burger, Dino nuggets or grilled cheese.

Breakfast is served until 10 a.m. The Big Denny's, named by students at RRMR where Denny used to coach football and basketball, includes two eggs over easy with cheese, hash browns and sausage gravy. Eggs, pancakes, omelets, loaded hash browns and biscuits and gravy are also on the menu.

Ribeyes are cut to order, they make their own beer batter for fish and onion rings and salads are made from scratch, Lori said. Pork tenderloins are freshly breaded. Steamed fish can be requested, and rice pilaf and vegetable medley sides offer lighter fare. Lori gets much of the meat at the Rockford Locker or at Fareway in Mason City.