Skip to main content

Enterprise Journal

Rusty’s Last Call starts chapter under new management

Oct 16, 2020 03:11PM ● By Theran Goodale
While Osage bar Rusty’s Last Call may be under new management, it is still far from giving its own “last call.” One of the local bar-goer’s favorite bars will be changing hands, but that doesn’t mean it will change too much. Russell Michels, founder and previous owner of Rusty’s Last Call, has decided to pass on the reins to his niece, Chelsea Michels.

“When I first opened up this bar, I told myself that I would stick with it for ten years. Well, it has been ten years and I think it is time to pass it on,” Rusty (Russell) explained when asked what prompted this decision. He first purchased the bar with the goal of giving back to the Osage community and as a way to reestablish his roots in a place he has always been fond of.

Since Rusty’s purchase, the bar has undergone a number of changes.

“We expanded everything. A big thing we wanted to do was to bring in more entertainment and create a place that radiated with the enjoyment of our clients. A place where people could come and unwind.”

One of the most notable additions Rusty brought to the town of Osage is known as SafeRide. It is a service that is available to taxi drinkers to and from their destinations with the goal of making the roads as safe as possible for all of those on them. The program has been sponsored by the City Council over the last eight years and the police department also noted they believe it has lowered the amount of impaired drivers on the road. 

“My favorite memory of the bar isn’t actually a single memory,” Rusty told Enterprise Journal. “It’s what the bar gave me a chance to do. I love meeting new people, bonding over a drink, listening to their stories, and through them, feeling just a little bit of what it was like to be there. I get to live part of their experience for a little bit, even if I have never even been to the place in their tale.” 

His all time favorite opportunity his business offered him? Being able to give back.

“I have been fortunate to be able to sponsor businesses in town, non-profits organizations, the schools, and support Osage, Riceville, and St. Ansgar whenever the opportunity arose.” 

Enterprise Journal was also able to speak with the new owner, Rusty’s niece, Chelsea Michels. While she has been living in San Antonio, Texas, Chelsea has kept root with the Mitchell County area through her father, Steve Michels, who lives in Orchard. When she was asked what was bringing her from the big city to little town Iowa, Chelsea said she likes the small-town feeling.

"My family is here and I just feel good when I am here. Everything clicks.”

Everything clicks indeed. With the purchase of Rusty’s, Chelsea has the opportunity to continue a family business, put her own twist on a local community mainstay, have the guidance of a previous owner at her disposal, and all while facilitating a permanent move.

“My goals that are most important to me are to keep the bar’s atmosphere, the essence of what my uncle intended it to be, but with my own experiences and twists. I also want to make sure to continue the partnerships Rusty’s has already established with local businesses and hopefully to make new ones to add to that legacy.”

Chelsea also shares the passion her uncle has for meeting new people and looks forward to the vicarious experiences that locals and strangers alike will continue to bring to her now own, Rusty’s Last Call. 

“We want to personally thank everyone that has made this place become a reality over the last decade,” Rusty said. “I came back to this community because my wife and I truly believe it is a special place. I can’t thank you all enough for welcoming us with open arms and lending a hand time and again when we needed. Shari and I will always love this place, this community, and all of you. Thank you for your kindness, your support, and your friendships.”

One final note: the service aforementioned, SafeRide, is in danger of no longer being able to operate. The program is in desperate need of drivers, and Rusty and Chelsea would like to ask that anyone interested in helping out please contact them via the number for Rusty’s Last Call: 641-732-4062. This program isn’t run to earn a profit. It exists to make our community as safe as possible by proactively offering an alternative option to those that may otherwise attempt the drive home impaired. Please help us keep this program running, help us keep the roads safe, and help us stop drunk-driving before it happens, not after.