A popular downtown Eau Claire tavern is changing hands, but will remain the same under new owners.
Becky Glass is selling The Fire House, 202 Gibson St., to Pablo Properties, a local group that has made a name for itself in recent years through downtown redevelopment, restaurant and hospitality businesses, and philanthropy.
“The Fire House is perfectly aligned with our passion for Eau Claire and we sought to foster businesses that make our hometown unique,” said Kent Buell, food and beverage director for Pablo Management.
He complimented the craft beer bar that Will and Becky Glass opened in 2010 as not only a great business, but also a wonderful place to gather and be part of the community.
The change in ownership, which will take place next week, was announced late Thursday morning by The Fire House via the bar’s Facebook page.
Will Glass said he’s been friends with the leaders of Pablo Properties — Zach Halmstad, Jason Wudi and Julia Johnson — for years and had broached the idea of selling to their company late last year.
“It really did come up very organically,” Will Glass said, adding the discussion began while having a beer with Wudi.
The tavern does good business, but Wisconsin’s post-prohibition beer laws made his family’s ownership of it a hassle as Will Glass also had started Eau Claire brewery The Brewing Projekt a few years ago. To keep in compliance with laws separating taverns from beer distributors and breweries, Will Glass deeded the bar to his wife in 2014 and gave his father, Bill, ownership of the brewery.
After his wife sells the bar, Will Glass will buy the brewery for $5 from his father. Following a bunch of paperwork, Will Glass will then be able to officially be the brewery’s owner instead of his current title of “volunteer president.”
“It clears up all of our ownership issues,” he said.
A leader of the Wisconsin Brewers Guild, Will Glass has advocated for changes to the state’s beer laws and said that selling the bar he opened 8½ years ago has made him want to continue that pursuit.
“This fuels my fire even more that this is what it came to,” he said.
The Glass’ have four children — ranging from 2 to 7 years old — and Will said that selling the bar will also give his wife more time to spend with them.
Ownership of the bar will go to Pablo Management on Wednesday, but Becky Glass will continue to work there along with other current employees.
“We are grateful that Becky will stay on as manager. As such, we aren’t planning any changes,” Buell said.
He acknowledged The Fire House staff as craft beer experts and said he and others from Pablo are excited to learn more from them.
Pablo Properties is known for extensively renovating a downtown hotel into The Lismore, which has a restaurant, coffee shop and upscale bar inside of it.
The company also has taken ownership of Water Street restaurant The Nucleus, opened Skill Shot coffee bar, donated substantially to a downtown arts center, created a downtown coworking space called CoLab, began renovating older buildings into new housing and plans to build an office complex along North Barstow Street.