Wausau Pilot & Review
Editor’s note: Business of the Week is a sponsored feature that shares the stories of locally-owned and operated businesses in the Wausau area, highlighting the products and services they offer and the ways they contribute to the metro area’s unique flavor. Learn how to feature your business by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week’s featured business is Richard’s Restaurant and Bar, which has been family owned and operated since 1987 and is known for delicious steaks, homemade pizzas and ribs. Pam and Tom Hettinga bought the restaurant in 1987, when it was known as Richard’s Supper Club. In 2010, the Hettinga’s son, Nick, bought the restaurant to continue the family tradition. Kari Czeck, who Nick refers to as his “better half,” is manager and co-owner of Richard’s. Together, the couple worked for Nick’s parents for 20 years before taking over. Nick said he is proud of his amazing staff. “Tod, Sammy, Kate and Danielle are some of the best bartenders in the area,” he said. “Tom, Glenn and Lucas do a great job in the kitchen. Brandi, Gage (Nick and Kari’s son), Kate, Mel and Karry K are always smiling faces in the dining room.” Nick’s enthusiasm for the food he serves and the customers who become part of his extended family is obvious when he talks about Richard’s. “I am very happy to be a part of this family business since 1987,” Nick said. “I hope to keep doing it for many more, keeping delicious food on the plates and refreshing beverages in the glasses.” Here’s what Nick had to say about what makes Richard’s Restaurant and Bar a true Wausau-area favorite that has attracted a diverse and dedicated clientele for decades.
Q: Tell us about Richard’s. What do you offer?
A: We proudly serve great food such as tenderloin and lobster, a fantastic Friday fish fry, and Saturday prime rib. We always have homemade soup and a fresh, delicious salad bar. I can’t forget to mention our chicken wings with 13 homemade sauces. The bar has a nice size selection of adult beverages. Of course, we have sodas and juice for the kids, because we are a family-friendly restaurant.
I have to say I am extremely happy with the return clientele. During the COVID-19 year they helped keep my employees employed and kept the lights on. It was not easy getting used to setting up takeout orders compared to dine-in, but we did it! So, to all of those customers from Kari and I: we would like to thank you for sticking it out with us. We wouldn’t be here without you.
Q: What makes your business unique? What sets you apart?
A: One of the things that makes us unique will probably be the soup and salad bar. We know that taking the time to make all of the soups in-house and keeping a fresh salad bar keeps smiles on faces. We hand-cut the tenderloin and ribeyes so the customer can get any size steak they want. If I had to pick a favorite item from the menu I would pick smoked baby back ribs. We slow smoke the ribs so when they are finished the bones fall off the meat. We top it off with our homemade honey barbecue sauce and it is melt in your mouth delicious.
Q: What do you love most about your job? What drew you to this work?
A: I grew up in the business watching my parents. Mom was cooking; dad was bartending. It didn’t take me long to love the business watching the relationships develop and the fun we had while doing it.
A: What are you most proud of accomplishing?
I’m proud of how we adapted during COVID. I’m also pretty proud of our Thursday night chicken wing special with 13 homemade sauces. Right now it’s a little difficult because of the chicken wing shortage, so we offer by the dozen instead of all-you-can-eat.
Q: What challenges have you had to overcome? Basically, if you had it to do all over again, would you do anything differently?
There are lots of challenges in the restaurant business, such as making sure we don’t run out of inventory. There are times when we have to cancel other plans because an employee is sick and we need to cover. But the truth. is I wouldn’t change a thing I enjoy everything about running the business.
Q: What are your hopes and dreams for the future? Where do you see your business in five years? 10?
A: In the future I would like to pass the business over to my sons, Austin and Gage. Gage works for me now as a server. Austin is a student in Madison. I believe that keeping this in the family for many more years would be a wonderful thing for my family and the Wausau area. Family-owned restaurants are harder to find with all the chain restaurants moving into the area.
Connect with Richard’s Restaurant and Bar
5305 N. 32nd Ave., Wausau | (715) 675-7070