A New District

downtown Eau Claire pub features tasty menu, mega drinks

by Samantha Kobs, photos by Andrea Paulseth

ZONED FOR FLAVOR. The District (newly opened at 101 Graham Ave. in Eau Claire) offers up an array of robust burgers and sandwiches (such as the Farmhouse BLT, far right), many of them paired with a beer suggestion.
ZONED FOR FLAVOR. The District (newly opened at 101 Graham Ave. in Eau Claire) offers up an array of robust burgers and sandwiches (such as the Farmhouse BLT, far right), many of them paired with a beer suggestion.

As we age, our ability to adapt to changes around us gets worse. Or we become apprehensive or perhaps completely cynical. But let me tell you, there’s a change coming your way that you won’t need to get up in arms about – a new place to fill your belly in downtown Eau Claire.

Located at 101 Graham Ave., The District is the newest eatery joining the ever-developing neighborhood. Owner Dave Zempel, a Seattle native, is a UW-Eau Claire alum who has fallen victim (as many do) to the beauty of the Chippewa Valley. “I just fell in love with this area, and I never wanted to leave. The people just kind of kept me here,” Zempel explained. We get it, Dave. We really do.

Since mid-August, The District has been operating in the same space that was once Playmakers (and, before that, Haymarket Grill), but this new business is quite different. Zempel (who also owns Rehab in Menomonie and a rustic barn venue called Alluring Acres in New Auburn) says that the space has undergone a pretty serious facelift, giving it a brighter, more family-friendly atmosphere. “I’d describe it as a newer industrial feel that’s inviting,” he said. “We did an insane amount of gutting in this place. Pretty much, if someone walks into The District, and they knew what Playmakers was like, they’re going to say, ‘Wow, this is different.’ ”

Indeed it is. Less tiki bar, more supper club with a touch of that busy nightlife everybody likes. And despite some intense construction in the surrounding area, customers seem to be diggin’ the new place, something that Zempel attributes to his hard-working staff. And Zempel is enjoying the gig, too, especially meeting whoever walks in the doors. “I think the new relationships you get to build with people from the area are my favorite part,” he said. “I meet a lot of interesting people and a lot of people from the area that you just kind of link up with, like, oh, they own this and they manage that. … It’s great.”

Things are looking good for The District. But what looks even better is its menu, which features burgers, wraps, pizza, fish, appetizers, and more. There are different specials each day of the week, including a notable Thursday and Friday fish fry with a different specialty fish each week. A new, extended menu that gives even more options to customers will be launched near the end of September. And get this: The employee discount (35 percent off) is given to anybody who comes in during a Packer or Badger game! That’s 35 percent off everything. Heyo!

That’s not even the best part. The District offers another special that’s sure to interest a patron or two: This something special comes in the form of a 192-ounce Moscow Mule, appropriately named the Magnum Mule, served in a giant copper mug. “Giant” as in the size of your face. And, if you bring in four or more friends to enjoy one on your birthday, you get it on the house. F-R-E-E. Free. Let’s be honest: None of your friends will buy you a gift anyway, so why not let The District bestow upon you the gift of all gifts? If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, choose from one of the 30-plus tap beers or a specialty cocktail handcrafted by one of their experienced “mixologists.”

We all know that change is inevitable and adapting takes time. Fine, let yourself be stressed by the latest technologies or how to properly navigate a roundabout (pretty much referring to you, Mom). We can forgive that. But this change right here in downtown Eau Claire is not one to resist.

The District Pub & Grill • 101 Graham Ave., Eau Claire • (715) 514-4043  Find it on Facebook • thedistrictpubandgrill.com

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