A downtown Waupaca business has a new addition and a bit of a name change.
“We officially changed the name to the Paca Pub & Grill,” Brian Smith said.
The name change goes along with the business’ new dining area, which opened on March 1.
“I wish I had my mom and dad here to see it,” Smith said.
His parents, the late Ron and Helen Smith, bought the business in December 1984 with financial assistance from Smith and his brothers Ted, Tony, Hank and Perry.
Today, Paca Pub & Grill is truly a family business, Smith said.
He and his four brothers are the majority owners.
When the family bought the business, they did not serve food but decided to include the word “pub” in its name as it flowed with the word “Paca,” Smith said.
“When my parents were alive, we always talked about expanding the business. Both my parents worked in food,” he said.
Both worked at numerous local restaurants, including the Windmill, Simpson’s and The Clubhouse at the Waupaca Country Club.
“When they bought this place (the 106 N. Main St. building), we did some remodeling,” Smith said. “We brought in bands to bring people. Business thrived in the late 1980s.”
A 1996 remodeling project included a new look out front, new bathrooms and a deck and stairway coming off of Rotary Riverview Park, he said.
When the smoking ban went into effect in Wisconsin, Smith said they saw a decline in business.
“It was fairly obvious we needed to do something other than just be a bar,” he said. “When my parents were alive, they always wanted to buy either the 108 building or the building on the other side, if it became available.”
In 2011, the 108 building did become available.
They purchased it in December of that year.
“There are five apartments on the second floor and there is an extra room on that floor that could not be made into an apartment. We made that a laundry for our tenants,” Smith said. “There are also three apartments above 106.”
About a year ago, remodeling began so Dragonwings Bookstore could be moved across the front of the 108 building.
After the bookstore moved, remodeling began where the bookstore had been located, creating a kitchen and restaurant.
That part of the project began last summer.
The drop ceiling was removed, and the dining area’s high ceiling has an industrial look with exposed heating and plumbing.
John Nasberg, of N & W Construction, was the contractor.
The approximately 30×40-foot dining space seats 62 people.
Counting the seating in the bar part of the business, seating totals 104, Smith said.
He said they decided on carpet for the flooring due to the size of the space.
The restaurant features six televisions, including an 80-inch TV; four 40-inch televisions; and one 32-inch TV. “We also have two 50-plus-inch (TVs) in the bar,” Smith said. Kevin Petersen installed the surround sound system and also painted the speakers silver to match the industrial feel.
Dark tables and seating round out the look.
Serving in the kitchen begins at 6 a.m.
“In the morning, we’re catering to the third shift workers,” Smith said.
Paca Pub & Grill’s kitchen officially opens for lunch at 11 a.m. and serves until 9 p.m.
The menu includes burgers, boneless chicken wings, grilled chicken and fish and chips.
“Wednesday nights, we’re doing the Burger Night. You can get a burger and fries for $3.25, with reduced prices on soda and beer,” Smith said.
After 9 p.m., the grill is turned off, with deep fried items and pizza available.
Future plans include serving breakfast items on the menu.
“It’s a great space for parties and for families to dine,” he said of the new dining area.
Smith said some of their friends asked why they do not sell the business.
“We have all tended bar. We are so proud of what this place has meant to our family over the years,” he said. “I don’t think mom and pop taverns will be around much longer. We felt the need to diversify. Every time we have remodeled, it has brought in new people, more people.”
Smith is happy with what is happening with the business and said a grand opening will be held.
“We’re seeing new people every day. We’re seeing people come back who haven’t been here in a while,” he said. “We want this to be a place everyone is happy to come to and proud of.”