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Good Times And Rich Local History Fill Buster Brown’s Big Dog Lounge

Katie Meyer and Zeke Zalenski purchased Buster Brown’s Big Dog Lounge in 2013. The couple enjoys owning and operating a business in Maumee’s historic uptown district.
Once serving as a movie theater and then as an Italian restaurant, Buster Brown’s Big Dog Lounge is located in a historic building with roots that date back to the early days of Maumee.

BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — For Buster Brown’s Big Dog Lounge owner Katie Meyer, working in the bar and restaurant industry is in her blood. Katie’s father, Charlie Greenburg, owned and operated several Toledo restaurants, including the Tasty Grill, Chuck Wagon, the Pippin Inn and The Roadhouse. “I think it’s in my DNA,” she laughed. In 2013, she and her significant other, Zeke Zalenski, purchased Buster’s from Terry Burkholder, but Katie had managed the business for many years prior to becoming the owner. Burkholder wanted to sell it to someone who cared about it, she said. “Zeke was getting ready to retire and he liked the place. He liked the people who came in,” she said. “I like that it’s a nice little town bar and you get to know all of the people – it’s just a shot and a beer kind of place.” Katie, who holds an associate degree in business, worked for a law firm and at the Chadwick Inn before Buster’s. Zeke, who holds dual degrees in electrical and mechanical engineering from Texas Tech University, recently retired from Owens Illinois. The couple is in the process of upgrading the bar with Zeke doing much of the work. Both bathrooms are renovated, new flooring has been installed in the hallway and the back pool area has been upgraded. Eventually, the entire bar, including the outside deck, will be redone. “Katie is really the heart of this place,” Zeke said. “And this town – I really love Maumee. There are a lot of small towns across the country that are boarded up and don’t look like this, so we feel very lucky to be here.” Katie and Zeke enjoy being in the historic district and love to share stories about the building’s rich history. At one time, it served as the Strand Theater – with a ticket window in the front – and there are rumors that theater chairs are buried under the floor below the pool table. It was also Calipetro’s Italian restaurant and the restaurant owner was married to the owner of the Wayward Inn in Rossford. The two businesses are connected in that both spouses installed a half of a heart on the ceiling of both establishments. “They did that so that even when they were working they were thinking of each other,” said Katie. The bar’s name also has an interesting history. One of the owners worked at UPS and named it “Buster Brown’s” after his uniform; then Burkholder added “Big Dog Lounge” because he loved the Cleveland Browns. For Katie and Zeke, it adds to the appeal of the business and the uptown area. “I just like the quaintness of our city,” Katie said. “I like the fact that everybody mingles and talks – I love all of the festivals and I love the people. I love to hear the great stories of people coming through who have never been here before.” Many of Buster’s regulars like the easy feel of the place, including John Boellner, who also serves on Maumee City Council. “It’s a working-class bar – it’s a comfortable place to go after work,” Boellner said. “And the owners and the staff are really nice – they always have been.” Zeke and Katie keep the prices reasonable – well drinks and most beers are only $2.75, plus happy hour specials take place until 7:30 p.m. every day and Jell-O shots are always available. Buster’s is the official viewing location of the Cleveland Browns and if Ohio State is playing, the Buckeyes are always on. “We are endorsed by the Cleveland Browns. Our house is divided; I’m a Browns fan and Zeke is a Steelers fan,” Katie said. Buster’s does not have a kitchen and does not serve food, which is fine with her. “We have snacks and you’re welcome to bring your food in,” she said. Awesome Acoustics Friday, featuring live music, takes place all year except in the summer, and every Saturday is karaoke night. On Wednesdays, a hula-hoop dancer performs. Katie and Zeke are big proponents of giving back to the community and have been strong supporters of Acoustics for Autism, the Outlaws baseball team and Special Olympics. In September, the bar will also host the pre-bash party for the Maumee Film Festival. “There are little things we do to try to help make a difference,” Katie said. Buster Brown’s Big Dog Lounge is located at 313 Conant St. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. and Saturday and Sunday noon to 2:00 a.m.

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