Gary’s On The River is a renovated historical building named in memory of the late Gary Jacobsen – an artist, creative genius, and extraordinary human being. Gary was the middle brother of local business developers Ron and David Jacobsen, inspiring them to take on this project in his memory.

David and Leann Jacobsen officially opened the Gary’s On The River restaurant in September 2013. Since its opening the restaurant has become a Northwest Iowa landmark, offering visitors sprawling views of the Little Sioux River; a unique dining experience within the vibrant and lovingly restored sanctuary (which features Gary’s artwork); and an exceptional menu of contemporary Americana cuisine, BBQ and cocktails.

The Story


Moving the building that would become a Northwest Iowa landmark, Gary’s On The River.

Constructed in 1898, the former St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church originally stood on 5th Avenue just blocks from downtown Spencer. As one of the city’s oldest structures, where its vine-covered exterior sheltered the beautiful craftsmanship, precious stained glass and rich history hidden inside.

The former church was bought by local developers and brothers David and Ron Jacobsen in 1993, when amidst declining local membership, the congregation merged with St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Spirit Lake, Iowa.

While it sat idle for years, the Jacobsen brothers knew that it was unlike any of their other properties across town and was deserving of something grand.

In June, 2009, the former church moved from its original location to the bike path along the Little Sioux River. There it became Gary’s On The River, a beautifully renovated community attraction named in memory of the middle brother of Ron and Dave.

It is a community treasure – one that helps create Spencer’s next hundred years of history.