August 2, 2007 in Voices

Borrowed Bucks can go a long way

By The Spokesman-Review
Photos by BRIAN PLONKA photo

Friends and customers mingle at Borrowed Bucks Roadhouse on Sunday. The business on Hauser Lake opened recently after extensive remodeling.
(Full-size photo)

HAUSER LAKE – A historic building on Hauser Lake is taking on a new identity.

The defunct Rainbow Inn is a wood-frame structure built as a home in the late-1800s. It became a lake resort and had been operated as a restaurant and bar since World War II.

Local lore claims it was an illegal gambling den in the 1930s. It also was host to the village’s City Council before City Hall was built in the late ‘80s.

The Rainbow Inn closed about a year and a half ago, just before the Idaho Tax Commission seized its liquor license. Previous tenants were in trouble for failing to pay taxes, according to published reports.

Now, Jesse Norman, of Rathdrum, is reviving the place. It was reopened last week as Borrowed Bucks Roadhouse, a restaurant and watering hole.

“This is going to be a first-class operation,” said Norman, a former long-haul truck driver. “We’ve probably got the best view on the lake. It’s incredible.”

Norman said he has spent about $50,000 remodeling and bringing the building up to code. And that doesn’t include the purchase price.

Perched on Hauser Lake’s east shore, Borrowed Bucks appears to be a much-awaited meeting place.

The moment its “Coming Soon” sign went up, curious passers-by began dropping in. “They’re just so happy to see us fixing it up,” said its general manager, who has gone by his nickname “Ditch” since dumping his Harley years ago.

“Everyone’s looking for a new place to go,” he said.

The restaurant calls to mind simpler times. There’s knotty-pine paneling, a fireplace and painted landscapes near some of the booths.

It will serve three meals a day, seven days a week, Norman said.

Custom-cut meats, including prime rib and five different steaks, will be served along with “doggone-good omelets,” fresh soups, a variety of salads with homemade croutons, burgers, sandwiches, kabobs, pastas, kids’ meals and desserts.

And they all are reasonably priced, Norman said. “We have something for everybody’s wallet.

“And everybody’s welcome. There’ll be boaters and bikers, loggers and business people. If you’ve got $20, you can have a good night and a good time.”

An adjoining saloon, closed off from the dining room, boasts a refinished wood dance floor, DJ booth, professional light and sound system and an outdoor seating area.

Boaters can pull up to Borrowed Bucks’ dock for a bite or a brew.

Motorcycle riders discovered the spot years ago, and they have flocked to the place ever since. They should feel right at home in the bar amidst its Harley memorabilia.

The bar also features a horse-trough-turned- beer-cooler, a bar covered in sheet metal, eight beers on tap and its signature Borrowed Bucks’ Hillbilly Punch.

Pool tables, dart boards, videogames, big-screen televisions and a fireplace complete the arrangement.

Live bands, karaoke or music spun by a DJ is planned every night of the week, Norman said.

He said he settled on the Borrowed Bucks name after a stroke of good fortune. A while back, he borrowed $5,000 from a friend, spent it all on a relatively unknown chemical company’s stocks and made a small fortune.

But in April, he experienced some bad luck. A pickup slammed into him and a friend as they were cruising through an intersection on his 2007 Harley Fatboy.

Norman’s leg was shattered below the knee. His friend’s leg had to be amputated.

While Norman was recovering, he decided to quit his life on the road to open Borrowed Bucks.

“I built this place on borrowed bucks – that’s my motto,” Norman said. “This place will never be the Rainbow Inn again. It’s Borrowed Bucks from now on.”

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