Volume One Special Coverage: Pulling Together While Staying Apart

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Pizza + Patio = Pizza Plus Patio

downtown bar/restaurant transforms alley into flexible, dynamic outdoor space

Jordan Duroe, photos by Andrea Paulseth

Benny Haas, owner and operator of restaurant and venue The Plus (aka Pizza Plus), always saw potential in the alley behind his business: He felt it could be transformed into a space where customers enjoy outdoor dining and open-air shows and concerts. “It was part of the plan right from the start,” said Haas, who has been operating The Plus and overseeing its renovations and expansions for over two years. “Redoing the inside was step one, so once that was complete we set to work building a patio.” The transformation is now complete and the alley (which was the home of V1’s own Back Alley Summer Cinema Series just a few years ago) is now the fun and fancy patio Haas had always envisioned. The patio’s stamped concrete and enclosing brick walls – on one of which the faded remnant of an old Coca-Cola stencil from decades ago can still be seen – contrast nicely with its contemporary furniture and patio décor; the atmosphere on the patio is thus able to feel both urban and modern while also maintaining its vintage charm. A string of lights runs across the rooftops above and bean bags are available for tossing in the back, which also allows the space to feel like a setting that is both romantic enough to be a good date option yet low-key enough for a group of friends who just want to grab a pitcher and some pizza. Having been open to the public for the last several weeks, the patio has already seen its fair share of live bands and events.  This is an exciting feature that The Plus can now offer as, outside of local park events, there aren’t very many places for people to catch music outdoors on a regular basis in Eau Claire. “We’re going to do as many music and comedy shows out on the porch as we can, weather permitting,” Haas said. Considering that most weeks The Plus has six nights of live (and usually free) entertainment, this is really saying something. Also, since their kitchen stays open until midnight every night of the week (with 25 beers on tap and a 10 pm-to-midnight happy hour that runs Sunday through Friday) The Plus can offer customers a chance to enjoy reasonably-priced outdoor dining late into the night. The patio, which seats around 100, is also available for rentals and private parties, and will remain open year round with heaters running in the fall and winter months to keep customers comfortable. With the patio complete, are there other plans to expand that are in the works for The Plus?  The answer is yes, but Benny isn’t looking to reveal everything just yet. He answers simply, “stay tuned.”

Lasker Jewelers
Lasker Jewelers

Pulling Together Partners

The following organizations are currently supporting Volume One’s work in the community during the pandemic:

Lasker Jewelers

L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library, Eau Claire

Downtown Eau Claire Inc DECI

University of Wisconsin Eau Claire

Pablo Group

Wisconsin Independent Network

Middle West Management

Bon Iver

Royal Credit Union

Silver Spring

Evergreen Surgical

Charter Bank

Chippewa Valley Technical College

The Murty Henriksen Family

The Larry and Marie Past Family

The Dan and Kerry Kincaid Family

Anton and Rae Schilling-Smets

Brady and Jeanne Foust

If your organization is interested in supporting Volume One during this difficult time, nick@volumeone.orgcontact us.