By Brandi Makuski
If you haven’t been inside 956 Main St. in a while, it looks a little different.
Well, a lot different, actually.
“That was the idea,” said Cory Lesperance, owner of the new Main St. Taps, as he glanced across the main floor of his new business. “A lot of the places downtown cater to the college community; we want to cater to everyone, but first and foremost, to young professionals.”
Lesperance is leasing the space formerly known as Bruisers Night Club—among other names—which previously had a rough reputation with local law enforcement, and was known for Friday night boxing matches between patrons in a makeshift boxing ring on the dancefloor. Lesperance said he even found dozens of blank waiver forms still in the office when the new business moved in.
But it’s a new dawn for the downtown district, Lesperance said: he plans to turn it all around by attracting a higher quality of clientele to the Main St. staple, which was first constructed in 1900.
“We wanted to focus on live entertainment, and this venue already had a stage in place, as well as all the sound equipment,” said Lesperance, whose liquor license was approved by the city in March. “But we also wanted to focus on some craft beers, as well as some fine-dining pub food.”
When it opens to the public June 4, Main St. Taps will offer 40 craft beers from brand new tap lines Lesperance had installed, along with “mainstays” in bottles and cans, he said, so every taste is catered to.
“So we’ll have craft brands like Central Waters on tap, but we also have a full door of old-school beers, including Schlitz and Blatz,” he said. “We’re not trying to be pretentious just because we have craft beer.”
Main St. Taps will feature a menu Lesperance describes as “an eclectic mix of only about 35 items” including traditional pub fare like fresh cheese curds, as well as hummus, crab dip and an array of burgers. The family-friendly pub will offer year-round Blue Perch fish fry each Friday, and feature BBQ ribs on Saturdays.
“We’re touching a bit of everything but using local, high-end ingredients,” he said. “We want to be on the same level as PJ’s, Mikey’s.”
Dessert options—something Lesperance said was “rare for downtown”—include a chocolate cake for two, fruit kabobs and chocolate mousse.
Drink prices average $4 for crafts on tap, and rail drinks begin at $3. Entrees average $9-$12, he said, with the highest menu item, a bacon-wrapped tenderloin, costing $17.
Lesperance had much of the interior remodeled, with rebooted kitchen space, bathrooms, and a waitress station, as well as a new employee break room as part of the 12,000-foot space.
The second floor includes additional seating space and a game room, so “pool and dart leagues can go on without interrupting the flow of dinner,” he said. The basement level, which also has seating, dance space, and a full bar, is undergoing renovations; Lesperance plans to rent the space for private parties beginning next year.
The UWSP Class of ’03 graduate has a long history in the food and liquor business, having worked in liquor and craft beer distribution and restaurant management locally over the past 15 years. While his emphasis is on craft beer and “a really good wine and spirits program”, filling a gap in live entertainment in the downtown will also part of the attraction.
“As far as entertainment goes, we’re trying to hit every spectrum,” he said. “Everything from blues and country, rock-and-roll, comedy acts…we’ve got a seven-piece horn and blues band coming in.”
Main St. Taps is partnering with Transcribing Dance Company for an upcoming fundraiser, Lesperance said, which includes a “dance recital with a bluegrass band”.
He also plans to bring national acts to town.
“Stevens Point has a thriving music scene, there just hasn’t been a venue since Clark Place shut down,” Lesperance said. “We’re hoping to bring that back.”
Main St. Taps will hold a series of soft openings for friends and family this week and opens to the public on June 4 with a full staff of 18.
“I think this fits a couple of niches downtown, and we want to give everyone who walks through the door really great customer service,” he said.
Main St. Taps can be reached at (715) 544-6500. Find the entertainment schedule and more information at the Main St. Taps Facebook page.