Pub construction begins

Chris Kemp

At the once-vacant lot of 442 Water St., plenty activity can be found as people gather in the area every morning. These people, however, are not customers; they are construction workers, and their aim is to build a new establishment on Water Street.

And it is the hope of owners Mike and Jennifer Dooley these construction workers will be replaced with customers when their establishment, Dooley’s Pub, opens on its set date of Oct. 1.

“I don’t want to be a flash in the pan,” Mike Dooley said. “We want to be seen as a place to go in Eau Claire.”

The process for this goal began May 2 when the groundbreaking ceremony took place – after a long delay from its original start date. The plan was for Dooley’s Pub to be operational by mid-March, but complications, such as building in the winter, prevented it.

“The circumstances were pretty much out of our control,” he said. “It all came together just recently.”

The Pub, which will replace the former Camaraderie, will be an Irish-themed restaurant that will serve alcohol, he said. It also will be a non-smoking establishment, a trait Dooley said will provide employees and customers with a better environment to work and dine in.

Junior Tim Ripple said the idea of the Pub will give Water Street more of a personality.

“The price aside, the main thing that will draw me back will be the atmosphere,” Ripple said.

Jodi Thesing-Ritter, associate dean of Student Development and Diversity, said she does not oppose establishments that serve alcohol as long as they are responsible with it.

Dooley said this is a primary concern of his, and he hopes to work with the university to display this trait.

“We’ll work with the university to present a positive message,” he said.

The Pub will be a two-story, L-shaped structure designed to seat 95 people, said David Peterson, the architect of the Pub. Some of its features include an entrance at the corner of Water Street and Fifth Avenue, multiple windows and balcony with 32 loft seats and a view of the Chippewa River.

The bar will be near the entrance, while the 44-foot-long dining area will occupy the back of the building, Peterson said. There also will be a second-floor apartment structure with four bedrooms, Dooley added.

John Mogensen, Mogie’s owner and president of the Water Street BID Board, said the restaurant’s success will be based on how well it is run. Because the restaurant business has a high failure rate, he said, it will be a challenge for the new owners.

“If it’s run well, it will bring a lot of people to Water Street,” he said. “If you can get people that are out of college down here, then other businesses will benefit.”

The plan for the pub began in late August when Dooley purchased the lot. He obtained approval from the city’s planning commission, the BID Board and the City Council before the process could move forward.

The major obstacle he faced came from providing a parking lot, which Tom Reiter, assistant city planner of Eau Claire, said the commission waived because of the accessibility of parking in the area.

During this process, some opposed Dooley’s idea. City Council member Terri Stanley said the Pub’s hours do not prevent it from becoming strictly a bar. The hours, Dooley said, will run from 11 a.m. everyday to whenever business slows down, which could be 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.

City Council President Dave Adler said, however, the Pub must make 50 percent of its profits on food sales.

“(The Council) granted the license based on that condition,” Adler said.

Dooley said even if his restaurant fails, he won’t turn it into a bar.

For now, Dooley continues to watch the progress of the construction crew with enthusiasm.

“Everyday it gets better,” he said. “Everyday is progress and everyday is a good thing.”