When the water rises on the Skunk River at Oakland Mills, it is a local attraction. Old timers speculate on when the river will crest. (Butch, because his business depends on it, seems to be the best prognosticator.) Bow-fisher people line the banks in droves, shooting at ripples in the water, which may or may not be a carp, spoonbill, or water snake.
One thing I admire about Butch Bittle (besides his cook’n), is that he and the River Rock Cafe have survived numerous floods of the Skunk River. Flood water has actually flowed right through his cafe. Butch points to a spot in front of the cash register, “The carp were jump’n right there!” Catastrophes such as this would finish most restauranteurs. Not Butch. When the water is rising, he packs his equipment out, ties down the propane tank, and waits’r out. When the water goes down, he disinfects the building, rebuilds the driveway, and opens’r back up. Butch is a survivor.
In a way, we (all of Butch’s clientele) feel a personal relationship to Butch and his family and the employees of the cafe. From the people who help him pack the equipment out when the water rises, and the people who nominated him for the best tenderloin award, and the people who are waiting to eat when water goes back down, we are all part of the story. A new sign might read, “It Rocks @ the River Rock Cafe.”
Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at (319) 217-0526 or email him at email@example.com.