A mainstay of Monroe County’s nightlife for approximately 40 years is no longer tending bar.
“At 76, it was just time to get on the other side,” Butch Kunkel said of his decision to retire.
Kunkel began his career in the people business 56 years ago when he started as a property manager for Holiday Inn.
The Waterloo native worked in that job for 16 years before he and a friend he met on the job partnered to open the 21st Amendment tavern in downtown Waterloo.
“I got tired of living on properties,” Kunkel recalled of why he changed jobs. “When you manage properties and have to live in the hotel, you don’t really get to have any neighbors or anything else. It’s very nice because you don’t have any utility bills, rent or anything like that, but it became a little bit of a drag on me.”
At the 21st Amendment, Kunkel was in charge of the front end of the business while his partner handled the back end.
Looking back, Kunkel said switching careers was the right choice.
“Getting back to Waterloo was really fun for me because I love the town, I love the people and I got involved working with different charities, which I like to do,” he said.
Kunkel kept up his charity work when he started managing Outsider Pub on South Market Street when the owner, who Kunkel knew, asked him to start working there when 21st Amendment closed.
In his four decades of working in Monroe County, Kunkel said he has most enjoyed giving back to the community.
“I just like to get involved with stuff like that,” he said. “I don’t want to brag.”
Kunkel has no need to brag, as his legacy of giving speaks for itself.
In 1982, Kunkel started what is now known as the Outsiders Honor Roll to raise money for Ss. Peter & Paul Catholic School.
“It started off as something very small in 1982, but with the community involvement we’ve raised over $345,000,” Kunkel noted.
Additionally, Kunkel for several years has been hosting a “Christmas in July” food drive for the St. Vincent de Paul food pantry associated with Ss. Peter & Paul Catholic Church.
That effort collected over 1,000 food items last year.
“It just keeps growing and growing,” Kunkel said.
In the academic realm, Kunkel also used to organize a bowling tournament to raise funds for Waterloo High School and Gibault Catholic High School athletics. That event ran for about a decade beginning in 1983.
He also helped begin the annual Monroe County Retail Liquor Association golf tournament about 30 years ago to sponsor scholarships for local high school students.
More recently, Kunkel began raising money for the Waterloo Optimist Club’s Christmas gift drive through Outsider Pub. So far, that effort has collected almost $46,000.
Although he is retired, Kunkel still plans to be involved with all of those charitable efforts, which he said will “give me lots to do.”
He also plans to frequent the property owned by the fishing club he belongs to in Foster Pond. There are 61 acres of land and a 13-acre lake that all members of the club co-own.
“There’s always something to do, so I’ll spend a lot of time there,” Kunkel said.