Volume One Special Coverage: Pulling Together While Staying Apart

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Westside Eatery to Feature Fifties Flair

the Classic Garage will offer a unique culinary and automotive experience

Laura Lash, photos by Andrea Paulseth

A DOORWAY TO FLAVOR. The team behind The Classic Garage is, from left to right, Alex Karrer (co-owner/general manager), Rick Payton (co-owner), and Kristi Kimble (operations manager).
A DOORWAY TO FLAVOR. The team behind The Classic Garage is, from left to right, Alex Karrer (co-owner/general manager), Rick Payton (co-owner), and Kristi Kimble (operations manager).

Texas transplants Rick Payton and Alex Karrer are hard at work on The Classic Garage, a new eatery on Third Street in the old home of Pure Oil and Buck’s Classic Auto Repair. With some Texan flavor and a refined business plan, Payton and Karrer are aiding in development of Eau Claire’s West Bank neighborhood. With a solid theme and a lil’ spit and polish, this auto repair garage is being transformed into a classic 1950s diner and vintage Cadillac showplace with an anticipated opening date of between mid-May and early June.

“Alex and I started talking a year and a half ago,” Payton reports. “It was going to be much smaller in scale and concept originally, but I kinda fell in love with the concept and the project more than doubled in size and scope to where we are today.” Payton’s neighbor, Kristi Kimble, a 13-year resident of Eau Claire, will be using her IT/banking background to support this new restaurant as business manager.

The Classic Garage is awash with traditional ’50s details like checkered floors and generous booths with red, white, and polished chrome throughout. Inspired by the style of a vintage 1956 Texaco Station, it’s now a whitewashed building with a classic green stripe.

Rick’s classic Cadillac of the day will be parked under the canopy out front. Diners will be seated beside one of Rick’s Caddies, elevated and on display inside the restaurant. His stunning fleet includes everything from a 1958 Eldorado Brougham to a 1955 Coupe Deville, each christened with a rockabilly name like Betty Rose or Virginia. The entire fleet will be on rotation amid the garage-oriented decor and should make for excellent conversations over those Cadillac Burgers and Blue Plate Specials.

With a solid theme and a lil’ spit and polish, this auto repair garage is being transformed into a classic 1950s diner and vintage Cadillac showplace.

There will be seating for nearly 50 hungry folks in the showroom / dining room. Sign Art is manufacturing a quintessential company sign in bright neon. The menu will consist of tried-and-true familial favorites influenced by Alex and Rick’s sophisticated foodie palettes. The menu is modeled after the one Alex created at his hugely popular eatery West Texas Wings in Alpine, Texas. Beef, elk, and bison will be sourced from Rump’s Butcher Shoppe in Altoona to create towering Cadillac Burgers. Their homemade signature sauces include the “Not Responsible,” which is to be tested only by wing-eaters with the strongest constitutions. Leading items on the menu will be the Buffalo Chicken Salad, the Eldorado Burger, and the Best Dang Chicken Salad Sandwich. Beer and wine will be served, including craft brews and oldies like PBR and Lone Star.

The current build-out at The Classic Garage is being executed by many car enthusiasts, including the men from Get Creative. Rick mentioned the entire team is plowing quickly through their work, eager to get the Garage completed and move onto the auto events that Rick and Alex will be sponsoring, including the upcoming Summerfest at St. James the Greater.

So how does Texas fare end up in Eau Claire? Rick moved here to experience the quality of life Eau Claire has to offer. Leaving behind the traffic jams and booming population growth of Austin, he was looking for the slow living that’s available here. And as an eager newcomer, he’s not here to change Eau Claire, but layer upon it, to make a contribution that enhances our way of being. The Classic Garage can do just that: provide a gathering place for families and friends, high-quality food with local ingredients, and a showplace for Rick’s Caddie collection. Payton and Karrer are looking to provide “a unique dining environment with the highest-quality ingredients possible.”

To learn more about The Classic Garage, 2111 Third St., search for “The Classic Garage” on Facebook, call (715) 598-7200, or visit www.theclassicgarage.com.

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.