The sign outside Tim Toetz's sports bar, Rounding Third, carries an appropriate slogan:
"The place to go before you head home."
You have to round third before you head home, and Toetz is happy to welcome customers to his establishment, which is located at 6317 W. Bluemound Rd.
Housed in a 6,000-sq. ft. building that was home to Cassidy's and Bob E O's, Rounding Third looks, at first glance, like an ordinary sports bar.
That leads us to Toetz's other slogan, which is emblazoned on the menu:
"We strive to make the ordinary extraordinary!"
"I had the idea for this bar bouncing in my head for about five years," said Toetz, a first-time bar owner whose background is in manufacturing. "I wanted it to be special. The way to do that is by having excellent food and exceptional service."
While some sports bars are content to serve frozen pizzas and chicken fingers from Sam's Club, Toetz decided to splurge on his menu, which features lobster mac and cheese ($15), an adobo seasoned grilled chicken sandwich ($9), which comes with a sautee of mushrooms and sweat peas with Swiss cheese and arugula on a grilled pita.
"Our mozz(arella) sticks are homemade. We wrap the wontons ourselves. Our beer cheese soup comes in a pretzel bread bowl and it's great. We have five different burgers, we have a 14-ounce cast iron seared rib eye ($18).
"Some bars downplay the food. They let the bartenders serve it and make their money slinging lots of drinks. I want to sell drinks, too, but I wanted the food to stand out."
At one of his first employee meetings, Toetz expressed his vision for the business.
"I told everyone that I want this to be the "Cheers" of 2008," he said, referring to the NBC sitcom that was set in a Boston bar.
"I told them ‘I'm Sammy "Mayday" Malone. When people come in, I want you to greet them with a smile and make them feel like they are at home.' Well, some of the girls there were in their early 20's and they had no idea what I was talking about."
It didn't take long for the employees to figure out that Toetz was passionate about his vision.
"I pushed them to the limit of making them quit," he said. "But, they see how hard I work and how much I want this place to succeed."
Toetz closed on the building April 22, then went to the Brewers game that night at Miller Park, where he threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Ben Sheets. A month later, after intensive cleaning and renovation that included a new roof and HVAC system, he opened for business.
The Brewers' surging attendance, along with a bump from Harley-Davidson's 105th anniversary celebration, have helped the business.
"I've been surprised at how well we've done so far," said Toetz, who is planning on another boost during football season, when he will open at 9 a.m. Sundays with build-your-own omelets and Ketel One Bloody Mary's.
"We have the NFL Ticket, so we'll have all the Jets games as well as all the Packers games," he said.
Like most of the bar owners on Bluemound, Toetz offers a shuttle to and from Miller Park.
"We had to do that right away," he said. "You're either all in or your not. We would go to the game with 12 people, I'd hand out a bunch of business cards and talk to people and we would come back with 24."
The offer of free chicken wings after games enticed some of the newcomers. The atmosphere and 17 hi-def TVs, 12 tap beers (Guinness, Smithwicks, Stella Artois, Spotted Cow, Pabst, Schlitz, October Fest, Miller High Life, Miller Lite, Leinenkugel's Sunset Wheat, Sprecher Amber, Hacker-Pschorr Hefe Weisse), a smoke-free second room and a creative menu kept them coming back.
"It's a very gratifying industry," Toetz said. "People let you know when you're doing well. If you have 10 customers and you treat them well and they go away happy, they'll come back the next time with two friends and they'll bring friends and it builds that way."
Host of “The Drew Olson Show,” which airs 1-3 p.m. weekdays on The Big 902. Sidekick on “The Mike Heller Show,” airing weekdays on The Big 920 and a statewide network including stations in Madison, Appleton and Wausau. Co-author of Bill Schroeder’s “If These Walls Could Talk: Milwaukee Brewers” on Triumph Books. Co-host of “Big 12 Sports Saturday,” which airs Saturdays during football season on WISN-12. Former senior editor at OnMilwaukee.com. Former reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.