Ramping Up the Rev

get an early glimpse at the soon-to-open wine bar in downtown Eau Claire, from the owners of The Plus

Natalie Rosenkranz, photos by Andrea Paulseth

Construction is still in progress at The Rev, a new wine  in downtown Eau Claire, but it’s shaping up to open its doors in May.
Construction is still in progress at The Rev, a new wine in downtown Eau Claire, but it’s shaping up to open its doors in May.

The owner of The Plus in downtown Eau Claire is finishing up his next project: The Rev.

Benny Haas, an entrepreneur and jack-of-all-trades, is planning on opening The Rev at 204 S. Barstow St., the former location of benny HaHa Arts and Gourmet Desserts. The Rev will be a wine bar with culinary offerings such as sophisticated charcuterie boards.

“We’ll serve East and West Coast wines; I want the feel that you’re in a different city – Chicago or New York – that you’re not in eau claire, but still have the comfortability of ‘Wisconsin nice.’” – Benny Haas, owner of The Plus and The Rev

Haas got the idea for The Rev shortly after he shut down the art store a little over a year and a half ago. “It’s been kind of an arduous remodel,” Haas says. If you were familiar with benny HaHa, the new wine bar will look somewhat familiar but with an extra bathroom and all new décor.

“The Rev” is short for “The Revolutionary,” as it’s a new take on a wine bar with a tasting counter, beer, and an off-sale case that’s open until midnight. “Our big aspect is to get away from the pretentiousness of typical wine bars,” Haas elaborates. “We’re aiming for more of an education as well as letting people explore their taste buds.”

Haas continues: “The idea here is a tasting counter with 16 different kinds of wine on an inert gas system and a tapas menu. There will be a charcuterie board (a meat board), a cheese board, olives, and hummus. We’ll serve East and West Coast wines; I want the feel that you’re in a different city – Chicago or New York – that you’re not in Eau Claire but still have the comfortability of ‘Wisconsin nice,’ ” he adds.

Wine will be available in flights or by the glass. “So,” Haas elaborates, “You can grab a bottle, check out for a retail price (not a restaurant price), and enjoy.” Haas adds, “We’ll offer more high-end boutique beers by the bottle.” 

The wine bar will feature a lounge as well as convenient wine lockers. “The wine locker option is for our wine club and esteemed customers,” Haas explains.

Haas is no stranger to owning a business. In addition to The Plus, which is a personality-filled restaurant and entertainment venue located right next door to the future wine bar, Haas opened a gorgeous patio area and remodeled part of what was previously The Bottle and Barrel (which is behind The Plus, facing Graham Avenue) to create an additional entertainment venue, The Venue.

“We’ll tie in with events on the outdoor patio, as we do The Venue, and when the back room (that is, the other half of The Bottle and Barrel) becomes something else, each one will take on its own life and help build off of each other,” he says.

In addition, Haas says: “The Rev has an extra party room, which we have for things such as bachelorette parties. You can reserve it for painting parties or small get-togethers. We had a kick-off event there with Clear Water Comedy a couple of weeks ago.”

The Rev will definitely be a welcome addition to downtown, Haas says: “I think having an option for a glass of wine and some sought-after beers by the bottle as well as a beer and wine off-sale til midnight is a nice sweet spot.”

The Rev is just the beginning, though. Haas explains, “After this, we go after the other half of The Venue – what used to be The Bottle and Barrel’s pool table and game room area. So,” Benny jokes, “you can get married on the patio, roll into the cocktail reception in The Rev, and then have your sit-down dinner on the other side.”

The Rev should open sometime in mid- to late May. “Hopefully in time for my birthday,” Haas says.