Nothing says summer quite like a scoop or two of rocky road, musicians playing against the backdrop of a setting sun and an old-fashioned barbecue. For the past 75 years, Tally’s Dockside has been a go-to spot for White Bear Lake residents and visitors alike. Keith and Jan Dehnert have been at the helm since 1990, and this year they are celebrating.
Nestled on the shore of White Bear Lake, Tally’s Dockside’s owners, six in all, have come and gone over the past 75 years. The restaurant became a part of the White Bear community in June 1939 when Clarence and Lylan Elsner transformed a gas station into their home, built a boathouse across the way and dubbed it the Anchor Inn. Seventeen years later the owners changed, and with it, the establishment’s name. Mildred and Ralph Blommer, known teller of tales affectionately referred to as “Tally,” took over the spot and changed the name to Tally’s Anchor Inn. It was a year-round business, offering ice fishing, boat rentals, community booyas and chili dogs. After a few others took a stab at the job, the Dehnerts bought the spot 24 years ago and never looked back. Although they have transformed and updated its look, Jan says their goal has been to maintain its authenticity, its “Tallyness.” “We’re really proud of where it’s got to and where it’s headed,” Keith says.
But their presence in White Bear did not begin with Tally’s Dockside. Hailing from the Wisconsin Dells area, with experience in the sport of water skiing, Keith had been an agriculture businessman, and Jan an interior designer when they opened up a shop in White Bear. They sold water skis and gave lessons. When Tally’s Dockside owners Ken Johnson and Jim Hunt approached the Dehnerts about buying the business, they accepted. “At the time, it really looked like a fun business. We looked at it and thought it had a lot of potential,” Keith says.
A young fisherman displaying his catch on the dock of Tally’s Anchor Inn. Photo courtesy of Jan Dehnert
From there, their vision grew. Tally’s Dockside is now only open in summer, but that hasn’t affected its popularity. Jan and Keith wanted to transform Tally’s from a fishing shop to a recreation destination, but keep many of Tally’s traditions. They added pontoon boat rentals and began featuring live local music nights. Five years ago they opened C.G. Hooks, a restaurant across the way named for their two sons, Connar and Gavin. The eatery scoops ice cream, caters parties and has a smokehouse. The chili dogs are long gone, but Jan says “Miss Piggy’s nightmare”—pulled pork plopped on a hot dog—is equally delicious. Despite the additions, at the core, Tally’s is still Tally’s. “You could easily tear it down and build something nice and new, but then it’s not Tally’s anymore,” Keith says.
Much like Tally himself, this dynamic duo has made it a priority to support their community and employees. Among those who have donned the Tally’s uniform is Pat Kurtz, a “dock boy” from 2000 through 2005. Tally’s appealed to him because of its location. “For a summer job for a kid in high school, there was no better place to work than on the lake,” he says.
“‘Island time’ is the feeling you get when you get to Tally’s,” Keith says of his little slice of heaven. “You lose yourself and get away from reality.”
Tally’s Dockside and C.G. Hooks host local musicians several nights a week. The Music by the Water series is from 6 to 9 p.m. on Wednesdays, the Pub Night Dockside is 5 to 9 p.m. on Friday, and Apres Lakeside Live is from 6 to 9 p.m. on Saturdays. Music by the Water series’ June lineup: Paul Mayasich and RAMM on June 11, Scottie Miller band on June 18 and Timbre Creek on June 25.
Tally’s Dockside and C.G. Hooks
4441 Lake Ave. S., White Bear Lake, 651.493.6763.
To celebrate 75 years, Tally’s is hosting 100 events and festivities, including a running mug club that supports local breweries, Tally’s Fourth of July celebration featuring the Joe Meyer Finesse Band and the annual barbecue throwdown.