Restaurant owner works to change the way you think about food


Jensen working behind bar talking to customers. ©2019JennaSherrick

Most people would agree that opening a restaurant is not a small task. It is a time consuming and stressful transition but remembering that in the end it will be worth it is a rewarding feeling.

Jake Jensen, voted Eau Claire’s very own favorite local celebrity, according to Volume One, second only to Chris Cozy, took on the task of opening a new dive bar called Wisco’s.

 Wisco’s is located at 1920 S Hastings Way, and is owned by the same management company as several other local restaurants including Wagner’s Lanes, Thirsty Badger and the Stout Ale house.

Jensen’s goal for Wisco’s “is to bring unique food and drinks to Eau Claire and to change the way people see food while getting them to expand their taste buds.”

His plan to conquer this goal is to have an innovative food and drink menu with combinations that customers are not used to seeing on a regular basis. This includes 24 rotating taps that are a mixture of fan favorites and smaller breweries that are not as well known.

Sami Atwood, Jensen’s wife and partner in the business, says her favorite dish on the menu is Popper Grilled Cheese. The sandwich consists of jalapeño poppers with American cheese and bacon on white bread.

Jensen may not have a college degree, but feels he is ready for this opportunity to open a restaurant because his father introduced him into the business world at a young age and he has been involved in all aspects of the restaurant industry.

Wisco’s has been open to the public for just over a couple weeks now and Jensen says the largest challenge for the restaurant that he must help overcome is the negative comments associated with the location.

Samantha Sonnee, a local business operator of multiple restaurants in Eau Claire explains how important location is.

“It’s a combination of surrounding businesses, housing developments and the type of food you offer. Fast food has it easy because people can choose to dine in or grab and go. A full service restaurant has to battle that, low prices, and the high amount of competition that already exists in the area.”

Jensen is ready for the challenge and believes he can make up for the challenging location with entertainment and the menu.

Long-time coworker, Jake Ryan, says that he would describe Jensen as honest, straightforward and hardworking.

Jensen has an outgoing and comedic personality that makes it nearly impossible not to laugh or feel comfortable around him.

For example, when sharing a memorable story from opening Wisco’s, Jensen said he was singing Adele while setting up the bar. Admittedly he forgot that he had an interview so the young lady waiting for him listened to him belt out an entire Adele song before the interview began. Jensen claimed his voice was a mixture of Fergie and Jesus; I wonder if the young lady would agree?

Jensen feels he is a successful manager because of his thoughts on respect.Respect isn’t given in titles, he says, but should be based off of hard work.

Bryce Buckmaster, a former coworker of Jensen’s says “his drive to take care of his family and better his life fuels his passion to succeed in the restaurant industry.”

One challenge that anyone can relate too is time management and the equal division of time between work and life at home says Jensen.

When discussing how he balances the two, Jensen pointed out that it was extremely important to invest a great deal of time into the new restaurant, but that family would always come first for him.

While asking for advice for someone who would be interested in running their own restaurant, Jensens response was to “Get organized, do a lot of market research, be prepared for long hours, and remember the end result is worth it.”