A new restaurant is planning to bring back the supper club experience to a familiar location on Eau Claire’s west side.
ClaireWaters Bar and Restaurant is preparing to open in late September at 2106 N. Clairemont Ave., which had originally been the Sea Horse Inn supper club but went through a couple identity changes in recent years.
During its latest incarnation as the Varsity Club sports bar, Tria Thao had attended a graduation party there and saw the potential of the restaurant’s large event center and backyard patio.
“We really liked the venue,” he said.
After the Varsity Club closed earlier this year, Thao and other business partners came up with the idea of stripping away the restaurant’s sports club vibe and going back to the relaxing atmosphere the place had when it reopened in summer 2016 as the Local Lounge.
The new owners — Thao, Bobby Lor and Douaneng Lee — intend to bring back the supper club idea of a fine dining, sit-down meal, but also affordable.
“We’re really trying to target the working class,” said Thao, who is the restaurant’s general manager.
Thao had previously spent about a decade working in quality control for Cargill, which he cites as food industry experience that will help elevate quality at ClaireWaters.
“What I hope to bring is a different level of standards to the restaurant industry,” he said.
Lor owns a local chiropractors clinic and Lee is a pharmacist.
Working under them is a team with lots of experience in the local restaurant industry.
Leading the kitchen as executive chef is Nick DeCambaliza, who for 12 years cooked at Eau Claire Country Club and was sous chef for half of that time.
The restaurant’s catering staff will be led by Jack Schulte and Dave Fischer, who have a combined 80 years of experience at local restaurants. Schulte had been known for Sweetwaters and Yankee Jack’s while Fischer was known for former Eau Claire supper clubs Fischers on the Green and Fischer’s White House.
In plans the restaurant submitted to the city, the restaurant said it will have 15 full-time employees and 10 part-time workers.
In its presentation last week to the city’s License Review Committee, the restaurant stated its hours for food service will be 4 to 10 p.m. on Tuesdays through Sundays, though there is the possibility of adding brunch in the future.
The restaurant intends to host live music, karaoke nights and other activities, plus it has the space to host small private gatherings or large ones such as weddings.
The restaurant has a capacity of 200 people, but the grounds also include an event center that can accommodate 300.
ClaireWaters is going through some final steps — including transferring the liquor license from the prior owner, which the City Council is set to vote on during its meeting on Tuesday — before opening.
The building originally opened in 1962 as the Sea Horse Inn, which was a supper club until it stopped serving food in 1996 and continued on as a karaoke bar. That business closed in 2015 and new owner Chase Collins reopened it in summer 2016 as the Local Lounge. That restaurant lasted almost two years before management changed and it was reopened as the Varsity Club.