Weather Forecast


Riske makes a career out of bar keeping

Whenever someone takes over a business, they're taking a risk. Dick Riske should know that better than most. Riske has owned his share of bar businesses, besides working at others. But the North Dakota native's extensive experience with such enterprises might help reduce the risk accompanying his latest venture, the Eastender in East Ellsworth.

"I've mainly bartended since 1974," he said Friday about his work history.

Riske said he assumed the Eastender's management in late October from former owners Frank and Teri Unger, who've now moved to California. He knew them and had drank beer here previously.

The premises seats 30 in the front, he said, and has a meeting room in the back. He and four employees will continue to serve a variety of beer and liquor, plus offer a small menu featuring hamburgers, finger foods and pizza. Hours will remain 8 a.m. to closing time seven days a week.

"If it's not broke, don't fix it," he said of plans to keep the operation the same as in the past, noting it still sponsors a dart league. (He has dropped the name of the Ungers' dog, "Jasper," from the name of the bar and grill.)

The new owner grew up on Minnesota's Iron Range, he said; his retired father, Stanley, continues to live in Biwabik, Minn. The son traveled the world after entering the Army in 1975.

Three years later, he was back in Minnesota (Minneapolis, specifically), where he began bartending. He bought his first bar in 1981.

"It was in Apache Junction, Ariz., right on the line with Mesa, Ariz.," he said.

He spent seven months running that bar before it went to his first wife in their divorce, he said. Then, he returned to Minneapolis again for more bartending.

Eventually, the bartender resumed being an owner. He said he had the following places up north: the Northwoods in Web Lake, Risky Dick's in Siren and Webster, and the Cascade in Osceola. The Eastender is his latest.

Riske is living in the local bar and grill's upstairs, he said. He has a yellow lab dog named "Izzi," and enjoys hunting and fishing in his spare time.

To comment on this article, go to