Nine + Dine is open for business
By Cheryl Parker

If local folks are looking for a relaxing place to have a drink or meal, they might want to consider the Jesup Golf and Country Club. The new management wants you to have a memorable experience at Nine and Dine. They promise:

• A comfortable venue.
• Good food.
• To be community driven.

When golf aficionado Steve Mergen stopped in to the Jesup Golf and Country Club to play a round of golf on November 14, 2016, he did not realize this would be a life changing event for him. Coming into the clubhouse he met Joy Pint, and remarked what a nice course it was. Joy is a board member, and asked him if he would be interested in managing it. Mergen gave it a great deal of thought before placing a call to board president Zak Knutson in January, to see if the position was still available.

They met, and this golfer’s dream became a reality. The next step was to call Jesup native, friend and golfing buddy Kolin Korsi to see if he would be interested in partnering with him in this venture. Mergen lives in Independence and works from home for Le-Vel Health and Nutrition Company (although these days “home” tends to be at the Club.) Korsi is a financial advisor and insurance agent with Farm Bureau Insurance, working out of the Elkader office. Even though he makes the commute to Elkader every day, local folks may know Korsi and his wife, Shannon, for being instrumental in starting the archery program at the Jesup school. These two men’s work schedules seem to work well with the Nine and Dine venture: Mergen is available to work days, and Korsi is available to work nights and weekends. As the business grows, they will be able to add personnel.

Mergen’s passion for golf has given him a lot of experiences at a lot of golf courses. “Weather,” says Mergen, “is the number one reason for failure of a country club.” It has to be open all year around to be profitable, yet the season for golf is not that long in Iowa. He wants everyone to know that the restaurant is not limited to serving members of the Jesup Golf and Country Club. All are welcome!

The first few months are crucial in any new business endeavor. Mergen’s well thought out business plan consisted of three phases. Phase 1 for Nine and Dine was the month of April. Mergen’s wife, K.C., and Shannon Korsi are not only friends but both full time employees at The Isle Casino. They were supportive, but have their own careers. The limited menu in April consisted of homemade pizza and burgers, and the two men worked it themselves.

Phase 2 was the month of May. The completion of the new deck with outdoor seating, and the addition of a few more menu items gave diners more options. Even though it was only their second month of operation, they hosted several special events: They hosted a high school graduation party for some friends in Waterloo with 250 in attendance, and their Mothers’ Day brunch served 204.

Phase 3 is the month of June. Mergen now has about nine menu offerings, mostly sandwiches, although he may do an occasional roaster of meatballs or other specialty items. He is finally ready to call Nine and Dine “a restaurant.”
Mergen is such a sociable fellow, he has enjoyed a lot of traffic in this start up period. The “Spring Fling” on the opening day of golf season was a big event.

The club has 18 golf tournaments scheduled for this season. Nine and Dine has hosted a teachers’ retirement party, the Wing Feed for the Jesup Firemen (which was so successful they have already booked another one for September) and the Farmers State Bank steak fry. Thursdays are “men’s day” and the day the coaches like to meet. There is a group of “retired farmers” who like to play golf, cards or cribbage, or just hang out there on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Nine and Dine has an active Facebook page. They had a “guess the number of jelly beans in the jar” contest for a free pizza that generated 15,000 shares!
Mergen wants the people of Jesup to know “if you come to the Nine and Dine you will have a great experience, you will be treated right, you will find it comfortable, and want to return.”

The club opens at 8:00 am, lunch starts at 11:00 am and is served all day. The kitchen usually closes around 8:00 pm. If you are interested in scheduling an event or have any questions about Nine and Dine, please call 827-1152.
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