CNick Schillinger refused to do a “dong
bong” (as most men don’t feel comfortable
with the joke), but he’s all about beer-bonging
a small pitcher from the skull. They’re
bad-asses with good attitudes at Chop’s
Old Bank in Waukee.
By Amber Williams
Most people go to the bank to cash their checks,
but a few alcoholics I know in Waukee cash their
hard-earned money at “the old bank.” Chop’s
Old Bank. Some even spend their entire week’s
pay bellied-up to the old bar, but to each his
own. One bank can be as good as another, and
technically, Chop’s Old Bank is a bank — at
least, it was 100 years ago. Now it’s a quaint,
brick structure on one of the Waukee Triangle’s
three points. These days, it’s a place where
the outlaws go to drink their money rather than
“You can still see where the vault used to be
in the brick work,” the owner, Chop, said while
pointing to a section of the brick where it
was discolored from what used to be an 8-inch
thick vault wall. “It took three weeks to remove
it. We had to take it out by hand, piece by
piece. And, the big vault in the basement is
When Gary “Chop” Sayre bought the bar six years
ago, it was burnt to a crisp from a fire that
had rendered “The Bank” a nonfunctioning eyesore.
But after a lot of work, including new electrical
wiring, plumbing, woodwork and a new bar, Chop
was ready for a re-opening. The former owner
of the Booneville Bar (now called the Waveland
in Booneville) said keeping the original name
on the 103-year-old building was good luck.
And so far, so good.
“Before it was a bar it was a dance studio,
or so I’m told, but I don’t know what it was
before that,” Chop said. “Everything I know
about the history of this place, I’ve learned
from people coming in here and telling me.”
By day, Chop and his bar staff hear stories
about the history of the site from the Waukee
old timers who take up a card table by the door.
But, by the time happy hour rolls around, Chop’s
own local following fills the room, slipping
dollars into the juke box and pool table. And
they mingle on the back patio that feels more
like you’re friend’s backyard, surrounded by
a privacy fence. The patio more than doubles
the bar’s capacity, so even on the hottest and
coldest of days, people spread out in back smoking,
drinking and throwing a sometimes dangerous
game of horseshoes.
You never really know what to expect at Chop’s.
The atmosphere changes according to who’s hanging
out, and the time of day doesn’t matter as much
at Chop’s as it does in other bars. The Old
Bank calls to bikers and bankers, volleyball
teams and poker players; it hosts bike nights,
karaoke and live music. And a full menu is often
served from Mama Chops Triangle Café across
the street, where Sayer’s wife and daughter
make comfort food from “Mama Chop’s own recipes.”
CHOP’S OLD BANK
400 Sixth St., Waukee
Hours: 11 a.m.-2 a.m., Mon.-Sun.
Happy Hour: Mon.-Fri., 4-7 p.m.
Entertainment: Karaoke Thur. and Sat., 9 p.m.-1
Capacity: 70 (150 including the patio)