WAUSAU − It’s been a busy year for business news in Wausau.
The biggest news this year included restaurants opening and closing, plans for the former Wausau Center mall site and other businesses announces plans to come to the area in the future. These are Wausau’s most-read business stories of 2022.
City approves Wausau Mall redevelopment plans
The city decided to move forward with plans to redevelop the former Wausau Centermall site.
The Foundry on 3rd project will be a 154-unit apartment complex with space for smaller retailers and commercial spaces. Liz Brodek, Wausau’s economic development director, said the project is expected to cost between $40 million and $48 million.
Wausau Opportunity Zone, a local nonprofit that owns the site, is working with T. Wall Enterprises on the project that organizers say will revitalize the space and draw more people to Wausau and the surrounding area.
The project site, which covers about eight city blocks in downtown Wausau, has been vacant since the mall was demolished in May 2021. The new mixed-use building will be a mix of studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom units. The space will also include underground parking with an interior courtyard and open-air amenities.
A portion of the property, about 130,000 square feet, will be returned to the city for street construction, according to the Greater Wausau Chamber of Commerce. The remaining 197,000 square feet will be used for development.
Pho Zone reopens in Weston
A popular local restaurant found a new home in 2022.
Pho Zone, which gained popularity after it opened in the Wausau Center mall in 2019, announced in 2020 that they would close because the mall was set to be demolished in the spring of 2021.
Owners Hlee and Lue Lee opened their new location Nov. 30 at 4204 Schofield Ave. in Weston.
Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday. It is closed Tuesdays, according to the restaurant’s Facebook page.
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Crumbl Cookies is coming to Rib Mountain
A representative for Crumbl Cookies confirmed Dec. 20 the popular cookie chain will open a location in the Wausau area.
An eagle-eyed resident posted a photo on Facebook showing signage for Crumbl Cookies being added to the large display sign at the business center on Rib Mountain Drive that includes businesses such as HuHot Mongolian Grill, Plato’s Closet and Ropa’s Pizza.
A spring 2023 opening is planned, the representative said.
The Pickle Jar opens in Wausau
The Pickle Jar Grinds & Finds, 4308 N. Sixth St., offers customers delicious menu items varying from coffee classics and smoothies to lotus energy teas and baked goods. The shop serves coffee from the Madison-based company Rusty Dog Coffee. Customers will also find home decor items that have been repurposed or “upcycled.”
Alicia and Doug Gjertson purchased the building in February 2021. They worked on getting the spot ready for more than a year before opening in May.
The shop is named for the Pickle Jar Theory, a concept revolving around time and life management.
If you look at life like a pickle jar, Alicia Gjertson explained, there’s only so much space for everything that needs to fit. The metaphor looks at the tasks or the important things in your life and equates them to rocks that need to fit in the jar. The big rocks are those big important things, like family and faith, she said. The smaller pebbles are your job, things you have to do. And the sand is the even smaller parts of life that still need a place.
Hiawatha Restaurant closes
Wausau lost a beloved restaurant in 2022.
Hiawatha Restaurant and Lounge owner Adam Jamgochian announced in September that he would close the restaurant at 713 Grant St.
“A special thanks to all of our patrons and staff over the years that kept the Hiawatha chugging along for almost 50 years, each and everyone of you is greatly appreciated,” Jamgochian said on Facebook. “Stay tuned to see new and exciting happenings on Grant Street!!”
Hiawatha first opened as a bar in 1903 to serve the passengers of the Hiawatha passenger line, according to the restaurant’s website. The Jamgochian family took over the restaurant in 1973. In 2018, the family worked to sell the the Hiawatha to new owners. When the sale fell through, they decided to reopen.
The restaurant reopened under new ownership Dec. 16 as Hiawatha Sports Bar, and according to its Facebook page, will feature bar foods, burgers, a Friday fish fry, specialty drinks and EVERY sports game to watch.
Developer wants to build Chick-fil-A in Rib Mountain
Rib Mountain may be getting a Chick-fil-A.
A developer, Lokre Properties, has proposed constructing the restaurant at 225421 Rib Mountain Drive, the former Olson Floor Covering building that was most recently occupied by Spirit Halloween. Rolly Lokre, founder of the Plover-based development company, told the Wausau Daily Herald in November that plans are in the very early stages.
Lokre said there is a lot of interest in the property and they hope to find the right fit for Rib Mountain. The property would need to be rezoned in order for the plans to move forward.
Angelo’s Pizza closes restaurant after 50 years
After 50 years in business, Angelo’s Family Pizzeria announced May 24 it would close its doors.
The restaurant, 1206 Sixth St. in Wausau, announced on its Facebook page that they will close and transition to only selling wholesale frozen pizzas.
“We have given this a lot of thought and made this difficult decision based on age, health, and family,” the post said. “It’s time to move on and give our son, Pete, the opportunity to take our business in a different direction. We are proud of his decision and hope you will continue to support us.”
The last day for the bar and delivery service was June 5. Since the closure, the business has shared nearly 30 local grocery stores, restaurants and bars where its frozen pizzas can be purchased.
Foot Locker to close Wausau distribution center
Foot Locker announced Oct. 19 that it will permanently close its distribution center at 500 N. 72nd Ave. in Wausau by the end of April. The entire facility will be shut down and all 210 employees will be affected, the company said in a letter to the state Department of Workforce Development and Mayor Katie Rosenberg.
Foot Locker will begin phasing out distribution operations starting at the end of January, and the facility will be closed by the end of April.
The company said in the letter the closure comes as it has identified ways it could make its distribution network more efficient and effective.
Aldi opens a new grocery store in Weston
After months of anticipation, Aldi opened a new grocery store Oct. 27 at 3311 Schofield Ave. in Weston.
The company celebrated the store opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, and the first 100 customers received gift bags with product samples and a gift card. Customers could also enter for a chance to win a $500 Aldi gift card.
The village first announced plans for the grocery store on Facebook in March, and construction began this spring. The Weston store is part of the company’s latest expansion as one of 150 new Aldi stores that were set to open by the end of the year.
Popular fast-food restaurants close
Many readers were sad when they learned two popular fast-food restaurants closed this year.
The Burger King location at 300 N. Sixth St. permanently closed its doors March 10, and crews immediately began removing signage from the restaurant that afternoon. The location’s seven employees were offered positions at other Burger King restaurants in the area, according to a company spokesperson.
The downtown restaurant first opened at the corner of Washington and North Sixth streets in September 1987. A fire in October 2006 damaged the restaurant and it closed for five months for remodeling and reopened with a “more modern look” in March 2007.
The Wendy’s restaurant at 2805 Schofield Ave. in Weston closed in September. A sign on the restaurant’s drive-thru menu announced the closure, and the location was immediately removed from the Wendy’s website. The company did not respond to a reporter’s request for more information about why the restaurant was closed.
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Contact Wausau Daily Herald Editor Jamie Rokus at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @Jamie_Rokus.