SLATER, Iowa — On the west side of Slater, the Nite Hawk Bar & Grill sits like a one-story mullet haircut: business up front, party in the back.
“This is the place to be in the summer,” said Shawn Birdsall, owner of the Nite Hawk. “This building will be full.”
The bar is one of the most popular stops on the High Trestle Trail, but it was only by chance that they ever came together. When Birdsall looked to open the Nite Hawk, the High Trestle Trail was still new and largely unknown.
“We thought it was going to be a big deal for the town — we weren’t really sure, it was a new deal. And it was the only building available in town at the time,” said Birdsall.
It turned out to be a stroke of luck. The High Trestle Trail has become a lifeline for the Nite Hawk, especially during the pandemic.
“When we couldn’t be open, we took our patio chairs outside … The city allowed us to put them on their property,” said Birdsall. “People were still on bikes, people were still out doing stuff. We just did everything to go.”
On a regular summer weekend, the Nite Hawk can see 700 bikes come through, and some of them just might stay.
“I know a lot of people who are our customers that are now living in town who I feel would not have picked Slater if it weren’t for the trail,” said Birdsall.
In nature, that would be called “symbiosis” — a relationship between two beings that benefits both parties. To think, the Nite Hawk is located on the bike trail simply because that was the only available spot in town. Now, you might argue that it has the very best spot in town.