In a series of interviews with notable alumni about their experiences at Assumption, we recently caught up with 2002 graduate Dan Bush, Co-Owner of Armored Gardens and the Triple Crown Whiskey Bar & Raccoon Motel in Davenport, as well as Analog Arcade Bar (Davenport & Moline).
Q. What are you doing now?
I just opened our second Analog Arcade Bar location in Moline. I also have a restaurant called Armored Gardens, and a small music venue called the Triple Crown Whiskey Bar & Raccoon Motel.
The QC used to have this 3-on-3 basketball tournament called Hoopfest back in the 90’s. It was such a fun event and we don’t have anything like it anymore. I’m currently trying to revive it.
Q: How did you become Co-owner at Analog Arcade Bar, Armored Gardens, and Triple Crown Whiskey Bar & Raccoon Motel?
After moving back from Chicago after college, I really wanted to bring bigger city concepts to the Quad Cities. Most of my AHS classmates moved out of the area after high school and haven’t come back, and my goal is to get people to want to stay after high school (or come back).
Q. How did you come up with the unique concepts for each of your establishments?
I legitimately don’t know. I’ll be driving or going for a jog and an idea will pop in my head and then I think of the steps needed to do it. There is no process. Maybe there should be?
Q: What made you want to go into the restaurant and entertainment industry?
I get bored easily, and the hospitality industry is always presenting new challenges that constantly keep my brain occupied. I realized early on that I wasn’t cut out for a standard desk job and I really find this work fulfilling.
Q. What is a typical day like for you?
There really isn’t a typical day, and I think that’s a big reason why I love my job so much. It doesn’t trap me in monotony. I try to set aside time every week to research something new whether it be a new concept or a new product.
Q: What do you enjoy most about the restaurant and entertainment industry?
I have a job where my product is selling fun. Seeing people having fun in a place I helped create is worth all the headaches (of which there are plenty).
Q. What are some of the things you learned at Assumption?
Assumption has been able to compete academically, athletically, and in the arts with much bigger schools because the collective standard of the faculty, staff, and student body is elevated. People really don’t talk about standards enough, but it really is the difference maker in life. Lower standards mean cutting corners and that makes long-term success difficult. But Assumption instills a standard and work ethic that turns successful students into successful alumni.
Q: How do you feel your time at Assumption has helped you in your career thus far?
I love that Assumption encourages its students to get involved in a variety of different things. As Coach Kacz used to say, “We don’t want one trick ponies.” In four years I played 3 sports, was on the newspaper staff, sang in the choir, performed in plays, and did countless other activities. The best part is that no one ever told me I needed to focus on one thing. I love that, and it shaped how I think now.
Q: What are a few of your favorite memories from your time at Assumption?
Although there were many, being the first quarterback to lead the Knights to four straight National Championships definitely takes the cake. Still waiting for my statue.
Q. Looking back on your time at Assumption, what are some of the experiences that helped prepare you for what you’re doing now?
I remember how Mrs. Brennan would have us rehearse for plays and how Coach Norton would have us practice in basketball. There was an intense focus on the preparation. When it comes time to perform or compete, things are kind of out of your hands at that point. It’s the time you spent (and how you spent it) beforehand that truly yields fantastic results.
I really can’t remember many games, but I remember the practices.
Q: Who were some of the biggest influences during your time at Assumption?
There were so many. Mrs. Carmine Draude (counselor) was definitely a big influence on my life. She really pushed me and made me want to be better. I remember Mr. Dave Simpson ’82 was the first teacher to talk to me like an adult and I always appreciated that.
Q: What suggestions or advice do you have for students who may want to pursue a career in hospitality?
Work. Find a place in the area you are interested in that recruits from within and outwork everyone around you. I’ve had jobs that I did for the paycheck and I’ve had jobs where I loved the work and the latter is better every single time.
Q: Do you have any last words of encouragement for the Class of 2019?
You have one life to live. You don’t get a second shot at it, so don’t waste it. Stop focusing on what you think others want/expect of you and focus on figuring out what YOU want. Try something, then try something else, and repeat this process until you have found that thing that gets you excited to wake up on Monday’s and do it. It’s that simple if you let it be that simple.
Thanks, Dan. We appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule for the interview. Congratulations on all the great work you’re doing!