A beloved, award-winning music venue in Dubuque is closing its doors just a year removed from incorporating a Davenport restaurant inside the establishment and winning a prestigious award from Dubuque Main Street.

This week is the final week of operation for the Fox Den Motel, located on Main Street in Dubuque, according to venue owner John McDermott and the Telegraph Herald. McDermott also co-owns the Raccoon Motel, another live music venue, in Davenport, IA. The Raccoon Motel will remain open.

The location of the Fox Den Motel (picture is the previous establishment Tavern on Main). Photo Credit: Google Maps
The location of the Fox Den Motel (picture is the previous establishment Tavern on the Main). Photo Credit: Google Maps

McDermott told the Telegraph Herald that a recent job change and relocation resulted in him making the commute back-and-forth from Dubuque to the Quad Cities. He said closing the Fox Den Motel came down to "a quality-of-life decision" after the commute became too much.

The Fox Den Motel opened in July 2022, replacing Tavern on the Main at 920 Main Street, adjacent to Yen Ching. The Fox Den Motel was a reliable establishment for live music, as McDermott and his partner, Sean Moeller, brought in a litany of bands from across the country to play at the venue.

Recently, the Fox Den Motel was named "Outstanding Music Venue" at Dubuque Main Street's State of Main Street Awards in October 2023.

A message posted on the Fox Den Motel's Facebook page gives a loving farewell not only to the city of Dubuque as well as an inspiring message about the arts, entertainment, and music industry in the Tri-States as a whole:

Playing a great show in Dubuque won’t make you famous. We’re a small town and we’re pretty far away from most things. You can’t get rich as an artist in Dubuque, there just isn’t that much money in the job. The only reason a band would play here is for a real love of creating. That sort of honesty isn’t replicable in most places, it’s almost inherent to a town. Therefore, I believe every word these musicians sang just because they chose to sing them here.


Dubuque, you’ve redeemed my faith in art, friendship, and a genuine pride of being from the Midwest. You gave me a year and half that I never expected to have and a new purpose to continue to work towards. Most importantly, you helped introduce me to the love of my life, Kiersten. - a snippet of the Fox Den Motel's farewell, per their Facebook page

The Fox Den Motel isn't leaving without a bang, however. They are closing with "A Toast to Dubuque" on Friday, March 29th (Good Friday), a night that looks to say thanks to their clientele, underscored by "cheap drinks." You can find out more on the event's respective Facebook page.

Meanwhile, the building at 920 Main Street is listed for sale for $350,000, per Ruhl & Ruhl Realtors of Dubuque.

You can read the Fox Den Motel's full farewell to the city of Dubuque on their Facebook page, or read more on the Telegraph Herald's website. You can also visit the Raccoon Motel's Facebook page.

Photos from Summer's Last Blast 2023

Summer's Last Blast 2023 took place at Q Casino's Back Waters Stage on August 25th and August 26th. Seven bands performed over the course of the two days!

Gallery Credit: Steve Pulaski

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