(First published in the May 9, 2019 issue of City Pages)
It was a night club, then Koo Coo’s Nest comedy club, and now a night club again
Kevin Heckert opened Night School bar in Schofield last weekend, adding a long-missing element to the local night club scene.
Eight months ago, Kevin Heckert posted on Facebook: “If I ever own a bar, I’m going to call it Night School.” The name just occurred to him, he’s not sure why.
A few months later, the owner of the building in Schofield that mostly recently housed the former Koo Coo’s Nest Comedy Club asked if Heckert was interested in running a night club there. After all, the place for many years had been Bruisers, one of the most popular dance bars in the Wausau area.
Last Friday, that random Facebook post became reality when Heckert opened Night School in the development on Ross Avenue known as Old Western Village. The current “soft opening” operates just the main dance floor area in back, which has its own bar and an upstairs seating area overlooking the dance floor. The front bar is still in the process of renovation. Heckert, a handy man who spent 25 years in the welding business after learning from his dad when he was still a teen, has done much of the remodel himself, along with friends skilled in areas such as plumbing and sound equipment.
Night School brings something the area hasn’t had in a while — an actual night club. There are ones in Marshfield and Stevens Point, but Wausau hasn’t had one since the days of Breakaway (N. Sixth Street in Wausau) and Vibes (Grand Avenue, Wausau) where Heckert once was in charge of security.
Getting the liquor license wasn’t smooth sailing, Heckert says. Under its previous incarnations, the site had more police calls than the city of Schofield cared for. Heckert says he plans to make sure Night School welcomes patrons just looking to have a good time, not those out to get blitzed drunk. He plans to implement a dress code. Night School won’t serve tap beer at all, only bottled beer and mixed drinks (he says low-cost tap beer tends to bring in the trouble crowd). There will be plenty of bouncers to maintain order, and staff will be trained to identify troublemakers early on. Heckert himself will make the rounds to ensure order is maintained.
Heckert didn’t foresee being in the bar/entertainment business. After first learning to weld when he was 12 years old, he attended North Central Technical College and worked as a welder for 25 years. But carpel tunnel mixed with a back injury from a car crash made welding a tough profession to continue. He’s optimistic Night School will be a success. The club is open Fridays and Saturdays to start.