TIFFIN– Mellow out on a Monday?
Bella Sala’s Salud Pub in Tiffin is the perfect place for it.
Bella Sala reception and banquet facility, known largely as a venue for wedding receptions and other big events, has always had a pub since it opened in February 2010, offered as part of scheduled functions. But its showcase outdoor patio and terraced waterfall was only available to event guests. Co-owners Melissa Fontanini and Lyndsie Schnoor knew it was a treasure that should be shared.
Therefore, the two decided to open Salud Pub to the public from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. each Monday through Thursday. Bar manager Dan Sorenson felt a great way to help people enjoy the venue would be to add beautiful music.
Cue Kevin “BF” Burt, consummate Iowa City blues musician who has wooed and wowed audiences for more than 15 years with his rich, soulful voice and flawless guitar playing. Burt appears each Monday at Salud Pub with his acoustic guitar in hand, harmonica at the ready and often, kids in tow, to offer his always-heartfelt musical performances for the Monday-after-work crowd. Burt plays from 6-8 p.m.
It’s the perfect setting for an early-in-the-week attitude adjustment. Sorenson said the Blue Monday gigs are not designed to cater to loud, rowdy college-age crews looking to tie one on. Instead, Sorenson wants to offer a relaxing, tasteful and family-friendly atmosphere for anyone looking to take it easy on Mondays, or any given weekday evening.
“It’s not a huge party bar,” said Sorenson. “It’s a pub, a casual place to come in and unwind.”
Schnoor added, “And you can actually hear the person next to you.” In other words, conversations here don’t have to fight with the music blaring from the loudspeakers.
In addition to easy dialogue and two-for-one specials during the 4–6 p.m. happy hour, Salud offers a simple, tasty menu: burgers, brats, pasta salad and chips. If the weather is nice, everything will be set up on the patio, including the bar and the music, and the kids might enjoy a game of bags on the lawn.
Such an easy start to the week is gaining popularity, Sorenson said.
“Mondays’ crowds are picking up,” he said. “People are starting to find out about us.”
That’s what Schnoor and Fontanini are hoping for. Though the pub caters to a more local clientele, “We are pushing for people to know ‘Salud Pub,’” said Sorenson.
Sorenson is a seasoned bar tender, having tended bar in the Florida Keys for quite some time.
“There’s probably nothing he can’t make,” said Fontanini.
And there’s nothing like Bella Sala or Salud Pub in the area, added Shnoor.
“It’s just so unique,” she said. “You can come here for your wedding, or any event, and feel like you’ve been completely transferred out of Iowa, like you are in a whole different part of the world.”
It is, perhaps, the unique atmosphere that now keeps the place booked nearly solid throughout the year. Perhaps it is also due to Schnoor’s and Fontanini’s self-described obsessive attention to detail; on this particular day, Fontanini ironed table linens because, she said, they want to make sure they are done perfectly.
Bella Sala does not have many open dates left for 2011, or Saturday dates in 2012 for that matter, and Schnoor said she has been taking bookings for 2013 already. However, the owners are now offering half off all room rentals for any available dates remaining in 2011. Schnorr also encouraged people to contact them for corporate events.
“We have completely come into our own as a great wedding hall,” said Schnoor. “Sometimes it gets lost that we provide services for many other types of events.” The co-located XOXO Bridal Boutique, for example, is a place where brides-to-be can find not only the perfect wedding dress, but also learn about the best local caterers, photographers, limousine services, and other necessary accompaniments.
Also, Salud Pub can also be rented for small events separate from Bella Sala, for up to 50 people.
“This is a perfect spot for showers, birthdays, graduation parties, all kinds of occasions,” said Fontanini.
Even if it is a just a regular, blue Monday evening.