Rib Mountain Taphouse

B.C. Kowalski/City Pages

Rib Mountain Taphouse

Rib Mountain Taphouse owners Todd Link, left, and Tyler Vogt munch on Mullins cheese curds at their luminescent bar.

If you had to name one thing local businessmen Tyler Vogt and Todd Link do especially well, it’s spotting a need, then building a business to fill it. They did it with Malarkey’s Pub in downtown Wausau, bringing in fantastic music acts from across the region and offering a diverse beer selection that Wausau wasn’t used to seeing at the time. When he put in a 16-tap system at Malarkey’s, “People told me I was crazy,” Vogt says.

Vogt and Link used that forward thinking to create Rib Mountain Taphouse, which quietly opened Sept. 18 in the former BoJo’s building at 2501 N. Mountain Road, near the Hwy. 51/29 exit. To say it fills a bar niche in that area is an understatement. Though a handful of restaurants in Rib Mountain do serve alcohol, few would be considered spots solely to meet up with friends for a drink.

Vogt says they eyed the location because of the growing draw of Granite Peak Ski Area and because they wanted to add local flavor to a neighborhood dominated by big box stores and national chain restaurants.

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So far, success seems inevitable. Even without a sign in front and a driveway that’s difficult to find at first, word of mouth has customers already flocking to the Taphouse with its 41-tap beer system. The beer menu wisely is divided into three parts: One pairs familiar domestic classics with craft options that a traditional beer drinker might graduate to. Another features familiar craft brew brands, and the third lists a seasonally rotating lineup.

The bar itself is instantly eye-catching and modern, with a translucent top glowing from LED lights strung below. It’s especially striking in the evening when the glow takes full effect.

The food menu features appetizers, burgers, sandwiches, salads and pizza. Vogt says he hopes Rib Mountain Taphouse can become a destination to grab lunch on the fly, as the items are designed to be made quickly. When it opens for weekday lunches in the near future, he wants people to get in and out quickly enough to accommodate a typical lunch break.

The Taphouse is laid out to cater to two different crowds: the sports crowd, and people who want to sit and enjoy a conversation. Two entire walls are lined with TVs, set up so that no one has to look over someone else’s shoulder to see a game. For conversation, Vogt and Link installed a fleet of lounge seating in cozy nooks to accommodate groups looking for a little intimacy. “We weren’t looking to build Malarkey’s West,” Vogt says. “We wanted to build something new.”

Launching the Taphouse didn’t come easy. Vogt says it took about 20 months of renovation, during which time they also were doing a large renovation to Malarkey’s wall of windows. Many notable items were brought in to the Taphouse from different areas of the country, including a handful from the former Curly’s Pub at Lambeau Field.

The Taphouse is open 3 pm-close weekdays and 11-close Saturday and Sunday. Eventually the Taphouse will open for lunch during the week as well.