Bringing pizza home

(First published in the February 27, 2020 issue of City Pages)

Rib Mountain Drive will be the ninth Wisconsin location for Glass Nickel Pizza Co.


Dawn and Don Calhoun, owners of the Glass Nickel Pizza Co. franchise in Rib Mountain, plan to open the restaurant in early March.

Don Calhoun dropped out of college, in his final months at UW-Oshkosh, to open his own Glass Nickel Pizza restaurant. He was working at the Glass Nickel in that city, starting out as a delivery driver and making his way up to driver manager. “I really enjoyed the job,” says Calhoun. “I enjoyed it more than my classes and my boss told me if I didn’t open up my own Glass Nickel he was going to fire me.”

Calhoun and a business partner opened their first restaurant in Green Bay in 2007. “I was 25 at the time and full of crazy confidence.”

He’s now about to open his next one, on Rib Mountain Drive, in the former Michael’s Supper Club location.

He and his wife Dawn Calhoun moved to Wausau eight years ago—they’re both originally from Tomahawk— and Don has been commuting to his Green Bay restaurant ever since. Don and Dawn are raising three girls and with the Wausau location opening soon, they’re looking forward to having their family closer together.

Glass Nickel originated in Madison in 1997 and Wausau will be its ninth location for the Wisconsin based-company. Founder Tim Nicholson was the one to propose a location in Wausau. 

With the opening slated for early March at 227255 Rib Mountain Dr. (the former Michael’s Supper Club), the Calhouns are looking forward to engaging more with the central Wisconsin community. And they’re excited to bring their pizza to the area. The base is an East Coast style hand-tossed crust; the dough is made every morning by the Calhouns. “We can make it thick and we also offer a cracker thin crust,” says Don. There’s a 10-inch gluten free crust on the menu and they are working on adding a cauliflower crust option soon. “We make our own sauce and we process our own veggies. Nothing comes pre-processed,” says Dawn. “So even though it’s a franchise it’s still very homemade.” 

The Calhouns have found the Deluxe a popular order, but historically the Fetalicious is the number one seller throughout the franchise — so much so that the name was trademarked, Dawn says. The Fetalicious includes a chunky marinara sauce, spinach, house blend cheese, mushrooms, tomatoes, red onions, feta cheese and oregano.

Another popular pizza is the Cardiac Arrest, which says Dawn, is basically a meat lover’s variety.

The restaurant will also offer hot and cold subs, salads, calzones and pastas. They’ll serve craft beer and Pepsi products, with a seasonal cocktail list and a small wine list on the way. Half of the restaurant will be for dine-in, the other section for parties and events. They will also offer delivery.

Glass Nickel Pizza Co. will be open daily at 10:30 am, closing at 11 pm Sun.- Thurs., and at 1 am Fri.-Sat. Located at 227255 Rib Mountain Dr. 715-203-4550.