Sometimes you just want a late night place that’s a little chill. Maybe you want a break from the bar scene, or you have some friends from out of town you want to catch up with without a lot of clamor around. Tyler Vogt is hoping Westsider Diner and Lounge is that very place.
As you read this, the diner is either open or about to be. The Malarkey’s Pub founder is planning to soft launch, starting with dinner, eventually adding lunch and then breakfast. Once in full swing, the diner will be open from morning to past midnight, transitioning from a bustling diner to a late-night lounge with chill vibe.
It’s a slow approach that Vogt prefers, in order to get everything right. Vogt jokes that he’s never had a grand opening for Malarkey’s Pub, which he’s owned for 15 years now. “We’ve never cut the ribbon,” Vogt says from one of the booths in the diner, laughing a little. “We’re still waiting, making sure we get everything correct.”
Malarkey’s Pub launched in the spot where Kelly’s Martini Bar briefly existed, and made noise for having more taps than anywhere else and not serving domestic beer. Today that seems par for the course, but it caused quite a ruckus back in the late-aughts. Malarkey’s also quickly established itself as the go-to live music venue.
Building Westsider in Wausau
Those booths came from a diner in St. Louis. Vogt as a business owner tends to exercise a great deal of patience. He first rented the building in 2017 (buying it in 2022 with friend Anthony Schneider), and has done a lot of the interior work himself. He tends to keep an eye on auctions to get good deals on used furniture, for instance.
That patience paid off, looking around at the diner. He bought all new stainless steel kitchen equipment because it’s open concept and visible from the dining area, so it has to look slick. The booths are pressed against newly exposed Ringle brick walls, adorned with art from Stephanie Kohli — that includes a mural we’re sitting under depicting Vogt’s grandmother, an influential figure in his life. “She taught me a lot in life,” Vogt says. “It’s a family thing. I want my kids to ask me about her.”
Besides the booths, there are also a series of rounded lunch counters similar to The Mint’s where folks can gather, chat about their days and take in the atmosphere.
There’s also a stage in the corner. Does that mean live music? Vogt says it definitely allows them to have the possibility, but also it could be a coffee area during breakfast, or just a nice extra lounge area.
A unique building
The building itself stands out — the exterior is painted all black with music themed artwork on the walls. Across the street from Jerry’s Music, it’s fitting.
In fact, Vogt values relationships with surrounding business owners, and on social media shared a history of the Liberty Gardens neighborhood that Westsider exists in.
As for the food, the menu will be concise, with a variety of burgers whose ingredients are sourced from Zillman’s Meat Market. The hashbrowns will be what Westsider will hang its hat on — the diner’s head chef has a secret seasoning recipe he’s been keeping secret for 20 years. “I had it the other day, and I didn’t need to sample anything else,” Vogt says. Otherwise, expect scrambles, breakfast sandwiches, and biscuits and gravy for breakfast.
All that might sound like a lot of work, but Vogt already has plans for a back patio this summer. And, there are plans for a larger scale mural project.
But first thing’s first. Vogt hopes to have Westsider open for dinner this week sometime — or if not, soon thereafter.
Correction: Corrected that Vogt rented the building in 2017 and bought it with his friend in 2022.