Friday, April 27, 2012
Too cool for school
The staff and the building have been around for a while, but most everything else about Ole School is new and high-tech.
Have you tried the Bacon Banana Burger yet? This specialty hamburger topped with - you guessed it - slices of bacon and banana is turning heads, and presumably taste buds, at Ole School Sports Pub and Grill, formerly the Dudley Mart & Restaurant.
"It takes a little guts to order it," said Corey Hansen, who along with Chuck Hiltz recently purchased and rebranded the convenience store and restaurant in Wirtz.
If their names sound familiar, that's because both are entrepreneurs. Hansen owns Perfect Blends, a coffee and sandwich shop on Scruggs Road, and Hiltz owns Hiltz Services, a landscape and hardscape company.
Hansen said the Bacon Banana Burger is a little out there, as are some other items on the new menu, but he and Hiltz wanted to spice things up a bit in an effort to bring in new customers.
Former patrons, fear not: You'll still find some of the old standards such as wings with buffalo, teriyaki or honey barbecue sauce on the menu. They're right there next to the mango chutney wing sauce with vindaloo, an Indian curry, and sweet Thai chili sauce with Sirracha.
Hiltz said they were trying to find the perfect blend between old and new. Customers still can order the popular walleye special on Friday nights or the prime rib on Saturdays, or they can take a stab at the Pizza Burger, which is topped with prosciutto, mushrooms, mozzarella and garlic. Or maybe the Bacon, Bacon, Bacon Burger, which Hansen said is topped with "an obscene amount of bacon."
But it's not all specialty burgers. Ole School offers dishes such as fish and chips and sandwiches including tri-tip steak, chicken salad and BLTs. For lighter fare, there are several salads, ranging from a standard house to a mix of spinach, strawberries and walnuts.
Lunch and dinner are available daily; breakfast is offered Friday, Saturday and Sunday beginning at 8 a.m. Like most everything Hansen and Hiltz are doing, it will be common fare with a twist.
"What we're looking to do is an old-school, old-style family breakfast, but it's also going to be novelty," said Hansen. "We're going to have big pancakes - pancakes the size of your head."
But the changes don't stop with the menu. Take a peek at the staff, all of whom stayed on from the Dudley Mart, and you'll see none of the servers carrying notebooks. Instead, they're packing iPods or iPhones.
Hiltz said servers will take orders using a special program called POS Lavu. The restaurant's menu has been uploaded into the devices so servers can tap the touchscreens to place orders. If customers like, they can read their orders to ensure everything is correct.
Then - and here's where the magic happens - the servers touch a button to send the order straight to the kitchen using the restaurant's wi-fi. Hiltz said this will save a ton of time, especially when the restaurant is hopping, and help get food to patrons faster.
"And the service alone will be more serving," said Hansen. "They're able to have some time to really spend with the customers."
Those who sit in the 60-seat family dining area can watch old black-and-white films, with the sound turned off, starring the likes of Laurel and Hardy or the Three Stooges screening from a projector.
Late at night, after the family crowd has gone home, the projector will switch to major sporting events such as Ultimate Fighting Championship bouts, said Hansen. Or musicians such as Fat Daddy Band, featuring whittler-turned-barber Greg Desaulniers on upright bass, will provide entertainment.
For something a bit more rambunctious earlier in the day, patrons can move to the walled-off bar area where nine televisions will be tuned to sports all day and night. For the hands-on variety, the bar features a dart board and foosball table.
Hansen said something that sets Ole School's bar apart is its draft beer capacity; a dozen taps line the wall. He said the bar offers the top five domestics including Yuengling, with the remaining taps rotating between craft brews of various styles.
"I'm not afraid to try something totally different and new," said Hansen.
In addition to the restaurant, Hansen and Hiltz are renovating the convenience store that shares the space. The store's footprint has been decreased to allow for a larger bar area and its wares have been pared down.
"It's just your standard convenience stuff," said Hansen, naming off items such as beer, soda, wine, candy and chips.
He said customers, old and new, have been receptive to the restaurant and store changes thus far. Hansen said the renovation work has been bringing in people curious about what's going down at the historic building.
Before it was Dudley Mart & Restaurant, it was Dudley School. The school opened in 1931 and many locals including Ron Willard and Agnes Brownie were among those who attended.
Hiltz said he'd love to host miniature reunions for the school's alumni at the restaurant. And if the former students have items they wouldn't mind parting with or photocopying, Hansen would like to decorate the walls with Dudley School memorabilia such as photographs, report cards and homework assignments.
Ole School Sports Pub and Grill is open Monday through Thursday from 11a.m. to 10p.m. and Friday through Sunday from 8a.m. to 11 p.m. It is located at 6674 Burnt Chimney Road in Wirtz. 721-1635. facebook.com/oleschoolsportspubandgrill