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 email@example.com.
This week’s featured business is Papillon’s Pizza, one of the Wausau area’s favorite hot spots for Mexican and Italian food, soups, sandwiches, salads, burgers and – of course – mouth-watering pizza loaded with cheese and plenty of delicious toppings. Home of the original world-famous Italian fries, Papillon’s, 1041 E. Grand Ave., Rothschild, has been a family-owned food destination for more than 40 years. Since 1978, the Wage family, including current owner Jennifer Wage, has taken great pride in cheerfully serving delicious, homemade food in a fun, yet family-friendly environment. Manager Deb Lewitzke, who Wage calls her absolute rock, is also a familiar face after spending 24 years at the business. Whether you’re looking for a cozy booth for two or a festive gathering for 10 (or more!) you’ll find it at Papillon’s, which has a private party room you can reserve, fun games and a full bar. The colorful artwork on the wall is created by young artists in the area, adding flair and personality to a restaurant that is warm and welcoming from the moment you walk through the door. If you’ve never tried their Italian fries – trust me – it’s one of the most delicious, mouth-watering foods you’ll ever taste. Jennifer spoke with us about how the restaurant was named, her biggest challenges, and carrying on the family tradition.
Q: When was your business established, and what prompted you to start?
Papillon’s was established in 1978 by my parents. My brother and I bought it in 2012 from my mother.
Q: How did you choose the name of your business? What are you trying to convey?
Actually, my parents chose the name. They did so because they liked the movie, a 1973 film starring Steve McQueen. That’s the only reason – but the name lives on.
Q: Tell us about your business. What products or services do you offer?
We have a full bar, and we serve pizzas, Italian fries, sandwiches, salads, pasta, fish fry, appetizers and a lot more. It’s a great place that truly has something for everyone on the menu.
Q: What makes your business unique? What sets you apart?
Papillon’s is a family-owned business. I think we’re different because we have been watching families grow for years, generations who come into the restaurant. We’ve taken the time to get to know our customers and love hearing about their lives.
Q: What are you most proud of accomplishing?
Aside from my children being my proudest accomplishment in my life, I am so proud of the people I work with who help keep this restaurant up and running.
Q: How have you changed and evolved over time? What’s different now from when you first started?
This is a totally different climate from when I started. Attracting employees is so difficult, and it’s hard not to worry daily about having the ability to stay open.
Q: What challenges have you had to overcome? Basically, if you had it to do all over again, would you do anything differently?
The challenge is getting staff and keeping them. If I had to do it all over again I might have chosen a different career. It’s hard work and the restaurant is almost like another child to me.
Q: What are your hopes and dreams for the future? Where do you see your business in five years? 10?
My dream is to keep this going. I hope we get a good, solid staff and people continue to enjoy the hard work we put into serving our community. Being in business is rewarding and also stressful. People can be so beautiful – but they can also be cruel. My hope is to spread joy and happiness to the people who come here and that they continue to enjoy the good food and great staff we have here.
Connect with Papillon’s Pizza
Papillon’s – 1041 E. Grand Ave., Rothschild
Sunday through Thursday: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Friday and Saturday: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.