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Iron Horse Saloon to have new owner

The Iron Horse Saloon in Medora is scheduled to change ownership on May 1, with Morey Bang and Brad Skachenko taking over. The pair plan to name the bar "Boots."

Mark Shoemaker, who sold the bar, was supposed to have a suspended liquor license beginning next week. The sale of the business makes the suspension null and void, since Bang and Skachenko are applying for a new liquor license.

"By selling the business, he did beat the suspension," said Doug Ellison, Mayor of Medora.

However, the saloon will close Friday for 10 to 14 days while Bang and Skachenko clean and paint.

Mark Shoemaker, who sold the Iron Horse to Bang and Skachenko, said he had thought about selling the business for years, but the suspension of his liquor license sealed the deal. His license was suspended as part of Medora's three strike rule, and the suspension was Shoemaker's second strike.

Ellison said the second strike was when a minor was discovered in the saloon without a parent or guardian, which he said is illegal.

The Little Missouri Saloon in Medora also received a second strike. Their liquor license was originally supposed to be suspended in May, but Ellison said the city council moved the suspension dates to April 10-24.

"He approached the council and just asked that it be gotten out of the way so that he could perform some cleaning and some maintenance and we were willing to work with him on that," Ellison said.

Bang and Skachenko said they plan to work closely with the city of Medora to prevent any violations of the city's ordinances.

Skachenko said they may divide the building into two areas -- one side being a bar, the other being a restaurant -- to avoid complications caused when minors come in to eat.

Ellison said he expects law enforcement to enforce ordinances just as much now as they have in the past. He added an extra officer is hired during the summer to step up enforcement.

"They do more spot checks in the summer than they would probably do in the offseason," Ellison said. "They did a great job last year -- our police force did -- and we would just expect them to maintain that service."

He said Medora has been working to enforce alcohol ordinances more strictly.

"We are paying closer attention in the past two years than I think had been done before," Ellison said. "Both the city councilmen and the police chief had gotten complaints from the public about the bars both serving minors and being open after hours and things like that. So we just try to enforce the existing ordinances by doing more spot checks and so on."

Bang, who used to run the 2 7/8 Bar in Killdeer, said he has never had an issue with alcohol violations and doesn't expect to.

"We're going to card hard," Bang said.

Despite the issues Shoemaker encountered, the new owners of the saloon are optimistic.

"I'm excited, I think it's going to be a great opportunity," Skachenko said.

Ellison said he is looking forward to working with the new owners.

Shoemaker said it's been hard to give up his business.

"I'm sad to leave," Shoemaker said. "It's painful in a lot of ways."

Shoemaker purchased a restaurant in Willow City and hopes to open it July 1. He hasn't decided what to name the restaurant, but may name it the Iron Horse.