Brenda Eggleston, owner of Dopp’s Inn Restaurant & Bar
Story and photos by Carol Vogel
Dopp’s Inn Restaurant & Bar in Dolgeville, NY, has been a staple in town for many years as a fun and easy-going hangout for locals. Brenda Eggleston, the owner, is spunky, genuine, and hard-working. Through life’s ups and downs, she has successfully continued the family business and expanded its offerings, including catering.
“I’m never going to pretend to be the fanciest place in the world!” jokes Brenda. “People come here to get away from daily stresses, listen to music, have a few drinks, and grab some food. We’re ‘The Dolgeville Cheers,’” she laughs. While Dopp’s is still well known for its bar business, that’s just the beginning of the story.
HISTORY OF A FAMILY BUSINESS
The location originally housed a business run by the Dopp family in 1932, and the name has survived over the years through various owners. Eventually, in 1979 it was purchased by Jim Eggleston and his eldest son Curt. Jim’s youngest son, Scott, was dating Brenda, and after high school, they moved in with his family and began working in the family business. Brenda worked in the kitchen with Scott’s mother, Grace, while Scott tended the bar and provided maintenance for the property.
By 1984, Curt, who was also working full time at Remington Arms, decided to move on, so Brenda and Scott took over his half of the business. Brenda and Scott were a great team. “We were learning as we went along.” There is something special about a family business that’s been operating for so long. “I am proud of that, it’s been a long time,” Brenda adds.
Brenda recalls a sense of community always being present at Dopp’s. She and her husband Scott raised their two children, Michelle and Jason, while they ran the business. “Back in the day, nobody left tips – but they would leave change on the bar. I would joke about ‘Oh! Lunch money for the kids!’ Then people would start leaving change and tell me, ‘That’s lunch money for the kids!’ It’s that community that takes care of everybody. Everyone looked out for our kids. Dolgeville has been a good place to live.”
As with any story, there’s heartbreak. Sadly, after a lifelong battle with heart issues, Brenda’s husband Scott passed away in 2015. Her strength, fortitude, and can-do attitude were apparent as she threw herself into the business and continued to build it to what it is today. With the help of family, friends, and the community, Dopp’s recently celebrated their 40th Anniversary in 2019.
NOT JUST BAR FOOD
Dopp’s famous Horseshoe Bar – perfect for sports rivalries and sharing drinks with friends.“It’s not just bar food,” Brenda says. Although her deep-fried cheese curds are a favorite, the menu has grown over the years.
“There’s nothing worse than going out and getting a tiny dish that doesn’t fill you up! We’re meat and potatoes country here.” Home-cooked meals and generous portions are the rule at Dopp’s. Customers frequent Dopp’s from Fort Plain, Canajoharie, Middleville, and Little Falls for that very reason. Brenda’s Alfredo Sauce is homemade, and other popular dishes include herb-crusted prime rib and fish fry. Monday Burger Night is also a draw, with buy one get one. “Everyone has their favorites!”
In the last 8-9 years, Brenda’s catering business has picked up as well. She began doing banquet-style events for local bowling alley teams, the Dolgeville Rotary, and catered graduation parties. Happy customers shared their experiences, and her catering is now very well known in the area through word of mouth. Lately, weddings, engagement parties, and, surprisingly, funeral receptions are a growing part of her business. “Nobody ever catered funeral receptions before. It was always that the families would bring food. Now people don’t want to deal with that. They would rather spend time with the family than cook.”
Brenda offers a little bit of everything on her catering menu, from hot entrees to sandwich platters and summer salads. “I tell people they don’t have to stick with the menu. If there’s something that your family likes or wants, I will try to do that. Every family is different, and every tradition is different. I just want to do what people want and need.”
“It sounds a little dramatic to say I’m on call, but I am really,” Brenda laughs. “Things come up, and you don’t know when someone is going need something. I try to stay stocked up to be able to accommodate people or run a tray over if someone just came home from a stay at the hospital. I try to help people out. I have to take care of my family – my customers.”
“It’s challenging. The restaurant business is really hard. There are fun times, but it’s seven days a week.” With prices going up, there are also hard decisions to make. “I like to be consistent, to have consistent people here that care about their job, so I have to be able to pay them a decent wage to keep them, and prices are continuing to rise.”
Then, I asked Brenda how Covid was for Dopp’s. “It was bangin’!” she laughs. “I was shocked at how good it was! It showed us that take-out service was really needed. We were just rolling with the punches.”
Brenda takes care of her staff and appreciates all they do for the business.
“I think people work better when they’re appreciated. I thank my staff every single time I work with them ’Thank you’ ‘Good job!’ ‘See you tomorrow!’ ‘I appreciate you’. We’re all friends, but obviously, I am the boss. I don’t run around acting like the boss. I try to be a leader. There’s not one job in here I haven’t done, or I won’t help them do. I am out there doing dishes, sweeping the floor, and taking out the garbage…we work shoulder to shoulder. I am nothing without them.”
Brenda is inspiring in how she balances Dopp’s, a catering business, as well as supporting other local businesses. She’s friendly, has a wicked sense of humor, and she cares about her staff, her customers, and her community. If you are looking for home-cooked comfort food and a laid-back bar atmosphere, visit Brenda and the crew at Dopp’s. “Come have fun, hang out, and relax!” Brenda adds and support a local family business!
Dopp’s offers dine-in or takeout options and is open Monday through Saturday from 10 am-2 am. If you have a large party, reservations are helpful (315-429-3411). They even have a large wrap-around porch so you can dine outside on those warm summer evenings. Open year-round, Dopp’s is a popular stop for leaf peepers in fall and snowmobilers in winter.
Visit Dopp’s on Facebook for dine-in/take-out or catering menus.
Note from the author: It’s in the genes! Many of our readers may know that Brenda’s daughter Michelle owns Ann Street Deli in Little Falls. This family sure serves up the deliciousness in our area!