(First published in the November 27, 2019 issue of City Pages)
Kim Lemke now has his own restaurant in Wausau’s Entrepreneurial and Education Center
Kim Lemke’s KimBob’s Café is open for lunch on weekdays, in the Entrepreneurial and Education Center on 72nd Avenue.
You can’t get much more iconic, all-American food than hamburgers, pulled pork with barbeque sauce, and mac and cheese. That’s exactly the draw that Wausau native Kim Lemke is aiming for with his newly opened restaurant, KimBob’s Cafe, located in the Entrepreneurial and Education Center building on 72nd Avenue in Wausau’s Industrial Park. While the offerings are recognizable comfort food classics, he elevates the diner fare, creating one-of-a-kind twists that most people probably have never seen or tasted.
KimBob’s Cafe, named by blending his father’s and his first names, serves wildly unique food, such as a pork mac and cheese grilled cheese sandwich. “Last week we had a Mac Attack special which was brisket, bacon mac and cheese on a Townline Market hamburger,” says Lemke, smiling as he explains the layers of the almost unbelievably decadent burger, which he adds, measured about six inches tall.
Anybody looking to tuck into a taste of Wisconsin or some barbeque-style food can find it here. KimBob’s tempts customers with a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich stacked with bacon, tomato, Swiss and cheddar cheeses on a garlic parmesan sourdough bread. They also boast Better Than Fair Curds and a Townline Market steak sandwich topped with flavorful sautéed onions, to name a few of the mouth-watering offerings.
Lemke enjoys sharing the unusual dishes he’s created with customers. “I had all these items in the back of my head, and I thought if I ever do a restaurant, these are the things I want to do,” he says. “I was telling my wife that someday Guy Fieri from Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, is going to come to Wausau and visit us and because of the crazy stuff we are doing with food.”
Back in 2010 Lemke started out by using the EEC’s industrial kitchen to create Kim’s BS Sauce. Kim’s BS Sauce hit the retail shelves in November 2011, debuting at TownLine Market in Wausau. He also took the Entrepreneurial Bootcamp offered by the center’s director, Romey Wagner.
About the same time his sauce launched, Lemke began his foray into selling food to the masses with a mobile catering license. His signature dish is a pulled pork sundae, a creation of layered homemade beans, creamy coleslaw, and pork, topped with Kim’s BS Sauce and a pickle. This mobile license allowed him to attend the Wisconsin Valley Fair, Wausau’s Artrageous Weekend and his own summertime “MeatFest” in the Midas of Wausau parking lot, garnering local name recognition along the way. “Before that, we were on Bertha Street doing it in a residential driveway,” he says. “We were breaking ordinances, which I fully understood and I realized I needed to find a commercial property to do business in.”
Almost on a weekly basis, Lemke would visit Wagner and pop his head in to talk about the cafe space inside the ECC. “I wanted this cafe,” says Lemke. “I told Romey, ‘If this ever opens up I would appreciate an opportunity and this is what I would like to do.’”
When the space opened up this summer, Lemke jumped at the chance, opening his cafe two months ago.
He reflects now that everything has come full circle, and supporting other local business, especially those who supported him, is important. “I am serving TownLine Market’s hamburger here at the cafe because they are local and they supported me when I started.”
KimBob’s Cafe also serves appetizers, salads, and soups alongside the signature dishes, special creations, burgers, hotdogs and sandwiches.
KimBob’s Cafe is located in the Entrepreneurial & Education Center at 100 N. 72nd Ave. KimBob’s Cafe is open for lunch weekdays 11:00 am–2:00 pm. Dine-in or call ahead. Catering is also available. 715-679-3120.