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Good to be Back

The Dexter Lake Club is still alive and kicking with the addition of Rattlesnake BBQ
The zebra-print walls emulate the venue’s Animal House days. Photo by Todd Cooper.

The Dexter Lake Club is iconic. The roadhouse-esque building sitting near the shore of Dexter Reservoir looks about the same as it did in the 1978 film Animal House when Otis Day called out to the film audience, “It feels so good to be back here at the Dexter Lake Club.”

It does feel good to be back at the DLC. The movie history has long drawn visitors the 12 or so miles out Hwy. 58 to the DLC, but for locals in the Dexter, Lowell and Pleasant Hill area, it’s also the fact it’s the hometown bar that draws people back each week. And while the building has remained largely the same since the days of John Belushi, the DLC’s ownership and management have switched hands over the years. 

Crystal and Dustin Holmes took over the lease last May, Crystal Holmes tells EW, and the Rattlesnake BBQ at the Dexter Lake Club is the latest rendition of the restaurant and bar combo.

The Holmes grew up in the area and got married on nearby Rattlesnake Road, Crystal Holmes says, so opening their business in nearby Dexter just made sense.

Park in the gravel lot in front of the DLC and you can walk into the bar on the right or climb the porch to the restaurant on the left. Hang left into the restaurant and Crystal Holmes takes your order — she says the Northwest brisket is the best-selling item on the menu. 

“My husband traveled a lot when he played football through college in his early 20s,” she says, “and everywhere he went he would seek out BBQ places. This lead to him developing his own flavor and take on what we call a Northwest-fusion BBQ.”

The Rattlesnake warns that it can take up to 12 hours for the pit master Dustin Holmes’ smoker to produce that “melt in your mouth” quality, and if you miss the first round of tender meat at 11 am, stop back at 5 pm for the next.

“We have traditional weekly specials including Taco Tuesday and Karaoke Thursday,” she says and a customer favorite is the smoked prime rib dinner on Fridays. As meatatarian as the menu sounds, the veggies among us can get a garden burger and a variety of fried snacks like tater tots and jalapeño poppers. The BBQ sauces, like the tasty Couch Hazel, work well for the fries, too.

The Texas Brisket. Photo by Todd Cooper.

If you are looking to imbibe more than snack, then walk into the DLC proper. You’ll likely find Dustin Holmes serving drinks behind the bar. The DLC was restored back to its Animal House look by Shannon and Gregg Stewart, the previous couple that ran the roadhouse, complete with the brick stage where Otis Day and the Knights once played “Shama Lama Ding Dong” and zebra print on the walls that are the subject of endless selfies.

The weekends feature live music at the bar like local favorites Peter Giri and Still Thinking. When it comes to the drinks, Crystal Holmes says, “Our house drink menu changes depending on the time of year, but for summer our margaritas and bloody Marys are a big hit.”

If a bloody Mary “fully loaded” with cocktail onions, asparagus and olives doesn’t grab you, then you can always go for the $2 Shock Top ale. As the warmer weather comes, sip a cold drink on the patio of a bar so famous that there’s a band in New York City that went to the trouble of copyrighting the name the Dexter Lake Club Band. Steal the name all you like, New York, there’s only one real DLC. 

The Dexter Lake Club and Rattlesnake BBQ are at 39128 Dexter Road, Dexter; 335-9626 or dexterlakeclub.com.