Danielle Dotzenrod is the co-owner of Dotzy's Restaurant and Saloon in Elgin.
When she was 16 she won a modeling contest and represented the U.S. abroad. She's spent the last 13 years living in Los Angeles, California singing and acting and doing other jobs in the entertainment industry.
Dotzenrod just came back home to Iowa and opened her new business with her boyfriend, Chris Bunch.
"My heart was always in Iowa. So it's good to be back," said Dotzenrod.
Just more than two months in to running the business, Dotzenrod said so far so good, despite not having run a restaurant before.
"No complaints. I tell everybody my only complaint is we're exhausted. So things are good," said Danielle Dotzenrod.
Business is going so well, plans are already in the works to add another dining room in time for the holidays.
Nearly everything in the restaurant is recycled. The walls are from an old barn, the light fixtures are mason jars and the floor is pennies. The name Dotzy's is a family nickname, and Dotzenrod picked Elgin because her sister lives there.
"We feel really needed here. We feel really wanted, really supported, and I just can't say enough good things about the people of Elgin," said Dotzenrod.
The 1997 South Winneshiek graduate hopes her business venture encourages other young people to invest back in Iowa.
"It's just an example of a small town that has a lot going on. It just takes young people in these small communities to get excited and pour their heart into something," said Dotzenrod.
She said she does miss the weather in LA, but she doesn't miss the traffic. Danielle Dotzenrod is happy to be back living the country life.