The Kehl family business started in the 1960’s when Bob and Ruth Kehl bought and ran a café in downtown Dubuque, Iowa. By the 1970’s they were also in the catering business and in 1973 the Kehls purchased a 150 passenger sternwheeler, “River Rogue” for dinner cruises.
In 1977, the Kehls commissioned a 377 passenger “Spirit of Dubuque”. In 1982, the Mississippi Belle, a 600 passenger boat was launched followed by in 1984 the Mississippi Belle II, a 800 passenger boat. In 1986, the business expanded to West Virginian with the West Virginia Belle, a 1000 passenger boat.
Hard work creates success. Bob and Ruth Kehl received the National Small Business of the Year Award from President Reagan in 1986, beating out now a well know company Microsoft for the honor.
It is no secret the Kehls were opposed to the idea of gambling on the rivers when the idea was floated in the Iowa Legislature in the late 1980’s because of the threat to their riverboat business. They soon figured out gambling was likely coming. No one was in a better position to be a part of this new industry.
On March 8, 1990, the Dubuque Casino Belle, Inc. owned and operated by Robert & Ruth Kehl was granted the first riverboat gaming operator’s license in Iowa and the license was issued on April 1, 1990. The Dubuque Casino Belle became the first American-flagged vessel to offer gambling cruises in the United States.
The Kehls received their second license in 1991 for the Mississippi Belle II, which started riverboat gaming operation on June 1, 1991 in Clinton, IA.
The Kehls had interests in and operated a total of four riverboat casinos in the Midwest; Dubuque Casino Belle, the Mississippi Belle II, Catfish Bend Casino, Fort Madison/Burlington, Iowa and Saint Joe Frontier Casino, St. Joe, Missouri.
In 2004 legislation allowed for land-based casinos and the Kehls started planning for Riverside Casino and Golf Resort in Washington County which opened in 2006 and Grand Falls Casino Resort in Lyon County, which opened in 2011. Iowa’s first land based casino resorts.
On February 3, 2014, RC Casino, LLC a group of Iowa Investors led by the Kehl family acquired the Rhythm City Casino Resort® from Isle of Capri. As a part of this acquisition plans were announced to replace the Rhythm City Casino Resort® riverboat with a new large, modern, land-based casino resort located at 7077 Elmore Avenue, Davenport, IA with easy access for both I-80 and I-74. The new casino resort opened on Thursday, June 16, 2016 with a 106 room luxurious hotel, retail/deli, a spa, meeting space, 3 restaurants and live entertainment venues.
Come Visit Us!
Rhythm City Casino Resort™
7077 Elmore Avenue
Davenport, IA 52807