Mint Mark chef/owner Sean Pharr once joked with fellow owner Chad Vogel that any disagreement in their partnership would have to be settled over a shuffleboard game.
Parlor games are nostalgic for the pair of restaurateurs, who used to play them when they were students in Stevens Point. Now, Pharr and Vogel are teaming up again to open a bar that is a “tribute to parlor games” at 4102 Monona Drive in the Lake Edge Shopping Center. It will replace Elie’s Family Restaurant, next to Lake Edge Seafood and a few doors down from Crema Cafe, which is in the same strip mall.
Named after a play on Wisconsin’s state fish, the Muskellounge and Sporting Club will feature games like shuffleboard, ping pong and foosball. The bar will likely be nicknamed “The Muskie,” shorthand for the muskellunge. They plan to open in October.
Pharr said they want the bar to pay homage to the state but the aesthetic would be in line with the modern design of Mint Mark, 1929 Winnebago St., and the Robin Room, which Vogel owns at 821 E. Johnson St.
“We’re kind of going for sailboat-meets-the-basement-you-grew-up-in,” Vogel said.
At about three times the size of Mint Mark, the approximately 5,000-square-foot space will have a capacity of 88. In the warmer months, the pair plan to utilize area outside of the bar that would have a capacity of 20 people.
“We wanted to make sure we filled it with larger format games, so we could have fewer people and initiate more conversations,” Vogel said.
Pharr said the interior will be a “complete overhaul,” and require building a new bar and redoing plumbing and HVAC.
“At this point we need to look at it like a blank canvas,” Pharr said.
They envision dividing up the space into a lounge area, a game-focused section and a seating area with larger tables. Vogel said they will have TVs and screens for larger sporting events, but the focus won't be on screens.
The Muskie will primarily be a bar focusing on whiskey and Scotch, with a few snacks. Vogel plans to have a large beer selection and feature wine by the glass and bottle. Visitors will drive what they ultimately offer.
“The people that come in determine what the focus is going to be,” Vogel said. He wants the space to be like a “secondary living room.”
“We wanted to have a place where you could play some games but also converse with people, because that’s how I feel the bar culture in Wisconsin kind of works,” Vogel said.
The city’s Alcohol License Review Committee approved the establishment’s license to sell alcohol, beer and wine July 17. It will go before the City Council Aug. 6.
According to the ALRC application, The Muskie would be open from about 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. on weekdays and noon to 1 a.m. on weekends.