After serving as home to the area's courthouses for over a century and a mixed-use property for another half-century, Wausau's historic Courthouse Square was cleared in 2002 to become a green space and gathering space for community events.
The newly purposed square positively transformed the views and street life of the historic buildings surrounding it, including the 1929 Mayer-Lotz building in the Chicago Commercial style.
The owners of this building, Kurt Kraimer and Ed Kraimer of GK 408 3rd St. LLC, saw an opportunity to foster a greater connection to the activity of the square and draw more patrons inside Malarkey's Pub and Townies Grill.
Given its proximity to the theater, the old Mayer-Lotz building is often called "Grand View" by Wausau's residents. Thanks to a storefront update using Kolbe's Ultra Series folding windows, the restaurant guests now truly have a grand view.
"Everyone wants to sit by the windows. It's the #1 question asked at our hostess station," says Tyler Vogt, co-owner of Malarkey's. "The windows definitely give our place a more modern, big city feel with a connection to the activities Downtown." "It creates a very unique atmosphere, something we have been working on for a long time and it turned out fantastic," praises Kurt Kraimer.
"We didn't want it to look out of touch or out of time with the other historic buildings. Kolbe made sure it looked correct, while meeting the City's requirements."
When Malarkey's opened its restaurant in 2007, it occupied what previously had been two separate, but connected locations. The building had been divided and built-out in the 1960s for various retail businesses, offices and restaurants. "There was a disjointed look to the existing storefront. It had been updated many decades ago using large, single-pane glass. It offered a mostly unobstructed view, but it was old and the seals had deteriorated," remembers Vogt.
Kraimer continues, "There was a lot taken into consideration for the new windows' performance and aesthetic. Now, we have a uniform appearance that coordinates across our entire space and fits with the neighborhood. Because the building's almost 100 years old and Mr. Vogt is operating a restaurant, there are a lot of rules. We didn't want it to look out of touch or out of time with the other historic buildings. Kolbe made sure it looked correct, while meeting the City's requirements."
Kolbe president Jeff De Lonay personally worked on the project. "When the owners got in touch with me, they had an idea of the concept that they wanted. They also wanted to work with a local company to achieve the look. They were looking to remove the existing storefront and bring the sights and sounds of the neighboring park to their customers," he remembers. "Our folding window system piqued their attention after they viewed a display of the product."
The Mayer-Lotz building that houses Malarkey's features a touch of Art Deco near the roofline, geometric capitals and engraved columns. Capturing the traditional look, while offering modern performance, each of the four Kolbe folding windows is crafted with a different configuration to maximize views. Beveled glazing beads accentuate the historic aesthetic. For Malarkey's, the windows' exteriors are clad in low-maintenance extruded aluminum finished a durable Dark Bronze anodized. On the interior, oak wood is stained in a Chestnut color.
"Kolbe also worked with us to give us a lot of options in customizing the windows – which way each window opened, how many panels were in each window, how wide each panel was and how the mullions were balanced," adds Kraimer. "All of this helped to maximize the view of the park and minimize obstructions for Malarkey's guests."
"Kolbe also worked with us to give us a lot of options in customizing the windows...all of this helped to maximize the view of the park and minimize obstructions for Malarkey's guests."
De Lonay elaborates, "I pointed out how many panels would be needed so that the projections would be minimized on to the sidewalk in front of the building. They also loved the possibility of getting an integrated screen with the unit to keep out early-evening bugs."
All of the folding windows in Malarkey's and Townies have side-retracting, black screens. Three of the units have four panels totaling 9.5 feet wide and one has three panels totaling 6.2 feet wide. Kolbe Folding Windows can accommodate up to eight panels on each side, spanning more than 50 feet and as high as 72 inches. The units for Malarkey's are each 55.75 inches high.
Kraimer presented the renovation plans to the City of Wausau for approval. "Like me, they loved the idea of how these windows would open up the space up and bring the outdoors inside."
Vogt agrees and notes, "We elevated the tables along the windows to give customers an even better view of the park's activities. When there are concerts in the summer, we can open the windows for everyone to enjoy the music, too. When the windows are closed at night, especially as the weather turns cool, there's this warm reflection off the windows when looking in from the outside. It creates this unexpectedly nice vibe that makes people want to come inside and join the activity. It's very welcoming."
"Since the windows have been added, we've increased our reservations by 150 to 200 percent. We're the busiest we've ever been."
Precision Glass and Door installed Malarkey's new Kolbe windows, as well as additional components for the entrance and vestibule. "It's a great facelift," echoes Don Turzinski, owner of Precision Glass. "Before, you could go by it almost without noticing. Now, you want to stop and go inside."
Turzinski offers additional praise, saying, "Kolbe was great to work with. They helped pretty much every step of the way, from shop drawings through installation. They even came down to help us as we were putting the windows in."
"The project went well and it turned out great," reiterates Turzinski. "The open windows and outdoor service make a big difference for the restaurant. I think it will really help Downtown as well."
"All of our customers seem to love them," says Vogt. He shares several customers' comments from Facebook:
- "We LOVED dining with the windows open! An awesome addition."
- "Looks great!!"
- "Love it!!"
- "Unique and awesome!"
Beyond compliments, Vogt noticed a boost in business. He says, "Since the windows have been added, we've increased our reservations by 150 to 200 percent. We're the busiest we've ever been."