DELHI, Iowa — Outside Smokey’s Lost Bar & Grill, the lake is frozen and the snow blankets empty campsites.
In the warmer months, Lake Delhi is alive with the noise of children playing and boats plowing through the water.
In the winter, though, silence historically has reigned.
However, this winter, the parking lot of Smokey’s has been full most weekends. And passersby who listen closely might just be able to pick out the muffled strumming of a guitar.
“We know Smokey’s is a little bit out of the way, so we want to give people a reason to come down the hill,” said owner Curtis Martin. “Live music keeps people interested in the place.”
While it’s dark and dreary outside, inside, Smokey’s is filled with lamp lights and the bustle of crowds as they talk and look on at the musicians playing in a corner.
Martin purchased the bar with his wife last year. He said the duo had spent years pondering owning a venue, and finally were ready to take the plunge.
For them, Smokey’s is first and foremost a bar that sits by Lake Delhi. The bar is a local spot where people can come and enjoy friendly company over the sounds of classic rock and country music.
“We wanted a bar that was fun,” Martin said. “We want people to want to come back here every week.”
Christie Fry, of Delhi, said she has been coming to Smokey’s for most of her adult life. She has always loved the crowds and the live music.
“I see it as my hometown bar,” Fry said. “I love that it brings a lot of people in. There’s generally just a good atmosphere.”
Martin said bar acts typically are relegated to the weekends, with bands leaning toward the genres of rock and country. Martin and his wife are particular fans of music, so they try to pick artists that reflect their tastes.
“It’s all music that we really enjoy,” Martin said. “We’re always bringing in good local bands.”
The name Smokey’s originates from the establishment’s prior focus on serving barbecue. While Martin has focused more on providing a fun experience for Smokey’s patrons, he noted that great food and drinks are available as well.
While the lake outside might be frozen, Martin guarantees that things are just warming up at Smokey’s.