The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Water Street gets new look

Janie Boschma

The absence of Kerm’s grocery store isn’t the only change to Water Street this semester.

A complete exterior revamp, a new private area for parties and an old-fashioned place to buy sweets are among the new modifications.

Old-fashioned treats

Water Street has its share of restaurants, bars and shops, but up until September it was lacking something: a place dedicated to satisfying those sugary cravings.

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But that changed when Blakelee’s Chocolates and Sweet Things opened its doors on Sept. 10, taking the place of Johnson and Huleatt men’s clothing store, 416 Water St.

From the street, the shop stands out with its colorful exterior and large ice cream cone and lollipop cutouts.

And sticking with the old-fashioned theme, customers must maneuver around the large barrels of candy scattered throughout the store and shelves of sweets coat the walls.

“Eau Claire needed a candy store,” owner LeAnn Walbeck said. “We’ve got variety.”

Sophomore Danielle Dow agreed.

“It’s really colorful,” she said. “It’s really cute inside.”

Dow said she thinks having a candy shop at that location is a good idea and will generate good business.

“We don’t have a lot of places on Water Street to go get ice cream,” she said.

Anything from ice cream to fudge to salt water taffy to truffles is sold, and sophomore Sara Watts, who works at the shop, said she is pleased with the addition.

“I’m happy that there’s a candy store here, because it is a fun environment,” Watts said.

Lofty addition

Now people can feel like celebrities on Water Street by renting out a new V.I.P. area for a private party at The Brat Kabin, 314 Water St, general manager Brian Schwechel said.

For $50, people can use the loft for the evening, and included in the deal is a case of beer and other promotional items, he said.

So far, he said the idea is helping business.

“It’s definitely been picking up quite a bit now,” he said.

Senior Morgan Paye said the bar was packed when she went Saturday, and she heard good things about the loft.

“I heard one girl talking about it and she said it was really cool,” Paye said. “It’d be interesting to see. If I could get enough people to pitch in it would be a cool idea for parties,” she said. “I’d check it out.”

Exterior revamp

Stephen Geitz, owner of Grand Illusion, 418 Water St., said the bar is going to look a little rough for a bit, but it’s intentional.

In September, construction crews began a project that won’t be entirely finished until next year.

“It had wood siding on it before and it was getting deteriorated,” he said. “I wanted to redo it with brick.”

So a crew is putting a scratch coat on, which is basically a rough, textured wall that bricks can go over, Geitz said.

The actual brick work won’t begin until next year, he said, so by the end of this year the building will have a rough surface.

But the bar is still open for business.

“We’re busy all the time,” he said with a laugh.

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Water Street gets new look