The Business News: Wausau on Water

Wausau on Water Kicks-off Wausau Riverfront Development
Perseverance Pays Off for Family Enterprise

For years, the Wausau riverfront, between Bridge Street and the Dudley Tower, has been a development priority for the City of Wausau. Following the opening of River’s Edge Trail in December 2016, the highly-anticipated Wausau on Water, or WOW Family Entertainment Center, opened on December 26, 2016. Further developments on the 16-acre riverfront are already in process by the city.

“We’re a family entertainment center with something for everyone,” says General Manager and Co-Owner Evan Greenwood. “There is fun for the families in the game room, and parents can sit in the full-service restaurant while the kids play. We also cater to corporate events with our laser tag. We’ve already hosted birthday parties, reunions, and it will be a great place to watch the Packers.” Several local companies have already taken advantage of the laser tag as a corporate team-building retreat.

The facility features 40 brand new arcade games, a 6,000 square feet laser tag arena, three private rooms for events, and the sports bar and restaurant which is covered with windows to provide optimal riverfront viewing. “There isn’t a bad seat anywhere in our restaurant,” says Julie Greenwood, Co-Owner. “We designed it that way so everyone would have a great view of the river.” Their outdoor patio will also be opening soon and will not only overlook the beautiful Wisconsin River, but also a park being designed by the City of Wausau. That park will feature a kayak launch, exercise area, giant chess board, and other fun activities for all ages.

Getting everything in place for WOW didn’t happen overnight. It took over five years of coordination and a lot of perseverance from the Greenwood family. That persistence seems to have paid off though. Already, they have almost 6,000 followers on Facebook and business has been steady since their opening. Online reviews have also been boasting the same thing. One said, “Wonderful casual dining experience. Friendly staff. Great service. Beautiful view of the River Walk area.” Another claimed, “Stopped today for the first time. Very nice new place, on the river with a great view. Inside is very clean, nice wait staff and very good food, using local businesses for many of their supplies, very good quality food. Meat from Townline Market meats is always excellent. Buns from Kreger’s Bakery a couple blocks away also excellent. Many tv’s…”

Sourcing from local businesses is important for Wausau on Water. In addition to Townline Market and Kregers, as mentioned above, WOW is working closely with Nueske’s and Kim’s BS Sauce to support their menu. “Tell that cook you’ve got some great food,” a satisfied customer shares with Julie as he walked by to prove that point. Their food has already made a large splash with the USA Today as well. Daniel Higgins, food and drink reporter, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin, came as a secret shopper and highlighted their Bourbon BBQ Brisket Macaroni Grilled Cheese. “This sandwich…pushes the limits of when a grilled cheese becomes just a sandwich with cheese,” claimed Higgins before adding to his mouth-watering review.

In addition to local sourcing, WOW Family Entertainment Center, has another important element of Wisconsin lore. Their bar will look familiar to Green Bay Packers fans since it once was the trademark bar of Curly’s Pub, located in Lambeau Field. When Curly’s was remodeling in 2015, they acquired it and saved it for their idea that has now become a reality. All their art work was also re-purposed from a friend that was updating their collection.

The family focus of their entertainment center is in keeping with their desire to build something together as a family. Five family members of the Greenwood family equally share ownership responsibilities. “I’ve always wanted to go into business with my Dad, and development on the riverfront was a perfect opportunity,” says Evan. “We all have an important role – my uncle, my mom, my wife, my dad, and myself – and have worked hard together to get things to where they are right now.”

Published in The Business News on June 5, 2017.


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