The Final Four is not just an NCAA basketball thing this weekend.
The Edge Eatery & Drinkatorium in Rapids City is the only Quad Cities bar ever to make it to the final four in the competition to be recognized as the top dive bar in the United States.
The format follows the NCAA brackets, starting with 128 bars nominated by their patrons and peers. Voting began in head-to-head competitions on Facebook on March 18. The top four vote-getters (in addition to The Edge) include Willy’s Still in Hurley, Wis.; Farmer’s Home Tavern in Hemlock, Mich., and Buzz Stop in Winnebago, Minn., according to the Dive Bar Road Trip contest.
Dive Bar Road Trip is a fun competition that provides local and small businesses with a chance to gain recognition for their establishment and community, according to a Friday news release. They are using Facebook as the platform to operate and determine winners in the bracket-style competition.
Bars must beat their competition in every matchup, and The Edge (owned by Lynn and Donnie Hunt) is the only QC bar to ever make it this far in the national contest (Belly Up in Orion was the only other in the region to start in the 128 bars nationwide; Gabe’s in Iowa City also made the list).
There has never been a QC bar included in this fun promotion from Dive Bar Road Trip since they began “March Dive-Ness” in 2019, according to The Edge.
The Rapids City bar, 1802 2nd Ave. (along Illinois 84), earned 1,200 votes in the last round to earn its position in the final four. It’s competing directly against the Minnesota bar, which also entered the final four at 1,200 votes.
Voting begins on Facebook on Saturday, April 1 at 9 a.m. and runs for 24 hours. The remaining two bars after Saturday’s vote will compete to be top dive bar in the U.S. on Monday, April 3 and voting will end simultaneously at the buzzer of the Men’s NCAA Championship game Monday night.
“It’s so exciting,” co-owner Lynn Hunt said Friday. “It started just with some friends nominating us. This was not on our radar as owners. But it was one of our patrons. She was aware of it and had seen their posting like the top 100 bars and so she nominated us and then it was all about social media taking off and getting us in there.”
She and her husband Donnie have owned The Edge (an 80-year-old place formerly known as Bridge View, off I-80) for 10 years. Being known as a dive bar is not a negative, Lynn said.
“I think dive bars almost become a term of endearment for a lot of places. So it’s a place where you go to feel comfortable and inclusive, and not necessarily just a neighborhood bar,” she said. “One of the things we have is being off Interstate 80 is, you meet so many new people coming through. So it is a place that I think people come in and they’re comfortable and they can share a story, a laugh and know that there’ll be someone to talk to when they come in or some crazy story to hear.”
Though there’s no cash prize for winning this championship, there will be a trophy and bragging rights, Hunt said.
“It really is touching and just overwhelming and humbling to know that so many of our friends are out there helping us push this out,” she said. “Our patrons had a party last night, a vote party if you will. We had a good night. The place was packed and everybody was pulling out their contact list and making sure we were getting the votes.”
Despite today’s storms, The Edge hopes to have another good night cheering on the Iowa Hawkeyes women’s basketball team, as they aim to beat South Carolina to make the NCAA championship Sunday.
“It’s a Cubs bar; it’s a Cardinals bar. So there are people that just use it as a place to go catch the game, whatever it is,” Hunt said. She and her five full-time employees also have been visiting other bars in the area to pump up The Edge in the Dive Bar contest.
“We keep raising the bar on our goal,” she said. “I’ve already had some calls this morning about what are we gonna do tomorrow to get this out and hit our goal of 1,500? So it’s gonna be a tough one.”
Here’s how you can vote for The Edge:
- Go to Dive Bar Road Trip Facebook page or The Edge Facebook page between 9 a.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. Sunday.
- Look for the post with side-by-side icon images for The Edge Eatery and The Buzz Stop.
- Click on The Edge icon image first, and click “like”
- Repeat on Monday beginning at 9 a.m. if The Edge advances!
For more information, visit the Dive Bar Road Trip website HERE.