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Wing Stop Pulls Out of East Tosa; DQ Might Stay

The DQ franchise was planning to close and Wing Stop was planning to come in. But now the latter is out, the former might still be in, and property owner is weighing his options.

A fast-food chicken-wing restaurant won't be coming to the East Tosa business district, citing a negative reception in the neighborhood and from the city.

But Dairy Queen, the old-line fast-food establishment that planned to close and make way for it, might instead try to stay.

Wing Stop has pulled out of plans to occupy the property at 6520 W. North Ave., the property owner says, but his current tenant is now rethinking his plans to give up his Dairy Queen franchise and depart.

In the meantime, though, landlord Jerry Mehring listed the property for sale – although he's not feeling pressured to sell now that DQ isn't pressing to leave.

Mehring, who spoke to Wauwatosa Patch from Honolulu, where he and his family were celebrating his granddaughter's first communion, said he would have to sit down and talk to his tenant when he returns later this week, but for now he has both a property broker and a tenant and is keeping his options open.

Owner now in no rush to sell

"Wing Stop did pull out, because of the negative comments from the city and from people in the neighborhood," Mehring said. "Before that, at one point, he (the Dairy Queen franchisee) thought he wanted to give up his franchise."

"But since then they've had a meeting, and his manager talked about how they could try to build up the business, so now they are thinking about staying."

"At this point, it's a Dairy Queen and is staying a Dairy Queen," Mehring said. "But we're evaluating it, and the propery is listed. It's available, let's say, but we're not selling to just anybody who makes an offer. I'm working with Dairy Queen to see if we can keep it there."

When things seemed completely up in the air – his tenant wanting out, his expected new tenant walking away – Mehring, an astute businessman, read the tea leaves of East Tosa and looked to where it's been heading.

Mehring hired as broker for his property the one man who has probably done the most to push the East Tosa/North Avenue milieu forward – Kristian Sydow, who arranged transactions for Juniper 61 and the BelAir Cantina.

"I understand that this wasn't in Jerry's plans," Sydow said. "It's listed. It's on the market. But it's entirely up to him where it's going."

Mehring can't lose by keeping a longtime tenant in place, but, he said, he's letting Sydow "test the waters" to see who might react to his property.

"We'll see," Mehring said, "what anybody offers."

The wing stops here

Wing Stop put in its application for a business permit earier this year when Dairy Queen was planning on pulling out. On the heels of its application came Ald. Joel Tilleson's proposal in February to prohibit new chain restaurants from the district.

Wing Stop would not have been barred, because its application came in before Tilleson's proposal, effectively grandfathering it.

But the negative response to another fast-food establishment just as effectively drove the proposed new franchise away.

Ald. Bobby Pantuso, Tilleson's 5th District colleague, said he had received far more communications against the Wing Stop than for it. But, he said, Common Council members had no means or intention of trying to halt it.

One source, who asked not to be identified because of ongoing real estate negotiations in the district, said that large numbers of neighborhood residents had made it clear they would not patronize a Wing Stop restaurant.

Pantuso said that if Dairy Queen opts not to stay, or if Mehring gets an offer he can't reject, he'd like to see a mixed-use development on the Dairy Queen site.

"I'd like to see something like what's proposed for the Fire Station site in the Village," Pantuso said, "but without the controversy.

"It would be welcomed here. I'd like to see total redevelopment of the property."

Kyle O. April 23, 2013 at 03:13 PM
This could and should be a nice re-development play. Tosa has been drawing "trendy" cafes and restaurants more recently, and with the larger lot and space in front of the DQ for outdoor dining, this could be a cool spot to add to the likes of Juniper 61, il Mito, Belair Cantina, etc. Or maybe even a ma and pop custard/burger stand could go here. Soft serve can only go so far when it comes up against the delicious custard flavor!
Kyle April 23, 2013 at 03:14 PM
Great, trying to turn East Town into the Village has its first casualty. While wings (or even ice cream) may not be your thing, let people actually decide with their wallets if they want a new establishment. McDonald's renovations increased business there and they heard the concerns of citizens and reacted with fences and no speakerbox, why not give others the same opportunity? North Ave is not the Village. It is a main thoroughfare connecting Milwaukee to Brookfield and a major route to Mayfair mall. The Village is nice. So is East Town. Let's keep both and not turn one into the other.
Random Blog Commenter April 23, 2013 at 03:45 PM
"I'd like to see something like what's proposed for the Fire Station site in the Village," Pantuso said, "but without the controversy." -- Ald. Pantuso. I hope by no controversy, Ald. Pantuso means that the city won't kick in a $1 million, the developer gets to build in a way that makes the project economical and the building owner is able to rent to chains like Jimmy Johns. Unless adjacent buildings are part of a project, I don't see a significant redevelopment of this parcel like the fire station parcel or Lockers Point. I do like Kyle O's idea of a quality custard stand/burger joint -- whether that be a mom-and-pop or a Culvers.
Kyle O. April 23, 2013 at 04:13 PM
(This is going to get weird since I am a "Kyle" too). But it seems East Town has already been "going the way of The Village" for some time now. And while North Ave is a major thoroughfare connecting Milwaukee to Brookfield, that doesn't mean that Village types of establishments won't and are not doing well on North Ave already. (Rocket Baby, il Mito, Belair Cantina, Cranky Al's, Rosebud "remixed", etc.). People that live in Tosa and a few of the thoroughfare users have been speaking with their wallets on North Ave already, and while McDonalds is successful (where aren't they by the way??) doesn't mean that another national franchise is needed to properly succeed on North Ave. The Rosebud draws people from the region (Waukesha, Oak Creek, Mequon and other friends from these areas travel to Tosa for the Rosebud), as well as places like Belair and il Mito. Do DQs and WingStops draw people out of their homes and distant neighborhoods as much? No way. Now, don't get me wrong, I will pound 36 wings every other day at Wing Stop (try the one out on Miller Park Way if you haven't), but a Wing Stop will not be a similar draw as the locally grown establishments are and continue to be on North Ave. Especially not when you have Buffalo Wild Wings popping up all over the place to satisfy the wing frenzy.
Kyle April 23, 2013 at 07:09 PM
Apologies if my point came off that I didn't like what East Town is currently, I love the mix including those places you mentioned. But prohibiting a certain type of establishment because SOME don't want it only limits opportunity for business owners and choice for citizens. Businesses, be they large chain or Mom 'n Pop, fail in different areas for different reasons, but the group shouldn't tell the population what's best for it.

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