Brian Bruening was born and raised on a working cattle, hog, and grain farm outside of New Hampton Iowa. He first attended St. Joseph’s Catholic School, and then New Hampton Public Schools. Among other roles, he served as the editor of the high school newspaper and was a featured student speaker at his high school graduation.
After going to school and working in Boston for 12 years, Brian returned to Iowa in 2006, when he and his partner Frederic settled in Elkader and started Schera’s Algerian-American Restaurant. They quickly garnered local and statewide recognition. Their story of moving back to Iowa as young entrepreneurs was featured in local and regional media outlets including The Des Moines Register and Minnesota & Iowa Public Television. They were also the subject of an audio documentary on NPR and the BBC International Radio Network. All throughout, they worked hard to bring recognition to their new hometown of Elkader, helping make the small town of 1200 people a destination for visitors from around the country.
Brian shepherded Schera’s Restaurant through two major floods on the Turkey River, including the 2008 flood which displaced more than 40 families from Elkader and closed down the restaurant for almost two months. From the floods to COVID, Brian is intimately aware with the challenges and rewards of running a successful small business in small town Iowa.
Brian received a Bachelor in Arts from Boston University and a Master of Fine Arts in Poetry from Emerson College. He has served on the board of the Elkader Area Chamber of Commerce and has been a major sponsor of Elkader’s Annual Art in the Park event. He has been the Chair of the Clayton County Democrats since 2016 and has talked about Iowa’s political landscape in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and on MSNBC’s Meet the Press Reports. In 2020, Brian told his story about growing up in Iowa, leaving the state and his decision to come back on the Midamericana Podcast.
He is married to his partner of 21 years Frederic Boudouani, and they live in Elkader.