Hiawatha to change hands

(First published in the June 28, 2018 issue of City Pages)

The east side restaurant and bar will close for renovation before reopening under new ownership


Current owners Bill and Adam Jamgochian say they’ll focus on their other business, Michael’s Supper Club

The Hiawatha Restaurant and Lounge has been closed temporarily since June 30, for renovations under new ownership. The soon-to-be finalized sale of the iconic business on Wausau’s east side marks the end of a 40-year run for the Jamgochian family.

Brothers Bill and Adam Jamgochian say they’re selling so that they can focus on their other restaurant, Michael’s Supper Club in Rib Mountain. Both buildings are old and need renovation work; trying to complete both projects would be too much, Adam says. The Hiawatha, for example, needs new heating and cooling, a new venting system for the kitchen, and new carpeting, Bill says.

The Hiawatha has been in the family for four decades. In 1978 Adam and Bill’s father, Roger Jamgochian, bought the establishment, which is named for the Hiawatha Train line. The historic train depot next door was made famous as the logo of Wausau Insurance, and currently is under renovation to become a distillery. The Hiawatha is thought to be the fifth-oldest operating tavern in Wausau.

The brothers took over the Hiawatha in 2008, with their sister Stefanie playing a large role in the business too, Adam says. The building already has undergone extensive work. When their father died in 2013, the funeral reception for him there attracted so many people that the floor joints gave out, Adam says. In addition to moving the bar and renovating the inside, they revamped the outdoor tiki bar.

The new owner is a well known local businessman, but the brothers wouldn’t say more until the sale is final. The deal is expected to close mid-July. They say the Hiawatha will likely reopen within a few months. They’re thankful for their staff and clientele over the years, but say it’s time to move on.