A Splash of Flavor
Ruthless Bar & Patio Enhances Rochester’s Culinary Culture
Writer / Angela Cornell / The Lakes Magazine
Rochester has a unique culture, marked by a variety of shops and restaurants. Among the small-business owners, there is a special sense of camaraderie and solidarity that is rare in a social circle often characterized by competition.
“I think we need to change that kind of thinking,” says Ruth Gunter, owner of Ruthless Bar & Patio. “Especially in small towns, it’s not that you’re competing with each other. You don’t want to run someone else out of business. You want to accent the other place.”
Gunter has always approached business with an uncommon point of view. When she and her husband Dwight opened up Evergreen Eatery, they had two major goals. First, they wanted to restore a restaurant that had been a staple in the community since 1939.
“The owner knew it needed a lot of TLC, and knew that we would redo it the way it needed to be,” Gunter explains.
Second, they wanted to give the community a different kind of eating experience. When the Gunters decided to expand their business holdings to include a bar and patio, they attacked the project with the same perspective. They purchased a downtown storefront that desperately needed renovation, and planned to put in an eatery that would accent the other options in town.
Initially the bar was Dwight’s special project. One day after they purchased the building, they were discussing – and disagreeing on – the menu.
“He was like, ‘You know what? It’s my bar and I’m going to do it the way I want it. It will be a Ruth-less bar,’' Gunter says. “I said, ‘Until 10:00 at night, then I go in.’”
By the time the argument became a fond memory, Ruthless had stuck as a good name for the bar. Even after Dwight passed away in August of 2019, Gunter decided to keep the name as it was.
Ruthless Bar & Patio is a showcase of Dwight’s legacy.
“This is what he lived for,” Gunter says. “He lived to see that end result of a finished job. He would be so happy right now and so pleased with the way it ended up.”
Customers appreciate the establishment’s laid-back and simple atmosphere. No matter when they come in, patrons can enjoy an excellent selection from the bar’s limited menu and a drink from one of the 12 drafts, with a good-quality IPA and a stout always on tap.
“There are always at least four that are interchanging per the season and the next best beer out,” she says. “The thing about IPAs and microbrews is that you don’t always want to keep the same one on. You for sure want to come in and try the next beer.”
The family-style patio offers a unique place for guests of all ages to come and enjoy a sandwich and fries by one of the fire pits. Thanks to the courtyard’s design, Gunter hopes to be able to keep it open nine months out of the year. Even as late as December of last year, guests were able to enjoy a drink outside while warming up next to the fire.
Gunter enjoys dreaming about ways to expand the restaurant’s effect on the community. One is by hosting events, like their Monday movie nights. She’s also looking forward to their upcoming Valentine’s Day celebration – one of many holiday events to come.
“It’s something to bring people out, because they’re already in town and celebrating so let’s just go out and socialize a bit more instead of being home the whole time,” she says.
She also hopes that sometime this year the bar owners in town can come together to offer a pub crawl. During this event, participants would purchase a special mug that entitles them to a special dish and drink at participating locations.
“It gives you a reason to walk around town and have a good time,” Gunter says. “Hopefully other businesses can benefit too. We can work together as a team and hopefully help each other grow.”
Ruthless Bar & Patio is located at 604 Main Street in Rochester. Reach out to them by calling 574-223-7884. Follow them on Facebook to learn about upcoming events and additions to the menu.