SIOUX CITY — Wheelhouse Bar & Grill co-owner Rick Dominowski wants his latest dining establishment to cater to everyone from hardcore sports junkies to families looking for a night out on the town.
Dominowski, best known as one of the owners of the Townhouse restaurants, thinks his upcoming 10,000-square-foot eatery will provide all of that and more when it opens in April.
Visitors to the Wheelhouse will be able watch a ball game on big screens, practice their golf swing, admire sports memorabilia, have drinks inside the sizeable bar area or enjoy the chef curated menu, which will also feature some returning Townhouse favorites.
“It’s a family-friendly place to sit and watch sports,” Dominowski said.
Located at 4501 Southern Hills Drive, Suite 1, at the Southern Square Shopping Center, Dominowski said he has a lot of family ties to this section of Sioux City and has wanted to bring a local restaurant to the area.
“It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for several years, to get into that southern/Morningside area,” Dominowski said. “I look at everything over there and everything is a chain restaurant and I wanted to bring more of an independent/local establishment to that area.”
Dominowski said he has nothing against the national chain restaurants, but just thinks the locally-owned places offer more of a connection to the community.
Calling this new restaurant Wheelhouse instead of capitalizing on the Townhouse Pizza & Lounge brand — which has a location at 2701 Floyd Blvd., in Sioux City, and a similarly named location at 100 Marie Ave. in North Sioux City — was a difficult decision for Dominowski, who partnered on this new venture with his brother, Aaron, and their cousin, Benjamin Uhl.
“We wanted to expand the menu a little bit and do some different types of food that we didn’t necessarily have the capability to do at our other two locations,” Rick Dominowski said. “We felt if we changed the name, we could change the menu but still have a lot of what do over here brought over and add some new stuff.”
Wheelhouse will use the same popular recipes for pizza and wings as Townhouse, but offer some things its sister restaurants won’t have, including smoked foods and a housemade barbecue sauce.
“Just some different appetizers, more of a homemade type of feel, we have some desserts that we are looking at and the great thing is we have been working with chef Brett McCarthy from WIT culinary group,” Dominowski said.
McCarthy, coordinator of the culinary arts program for Western Iowa Tech Community College, has been developing a menu for Wheelhouse that Dominowski describes “as unique, yet simple.”
“It’s not something you go in and it's typical bar food; we want it with just a little bit of flair to it,” Dominowski said. “We will hire a chef at this location, that way we can have somebody with expertise in different kinds of cooking techniques.”
Dominowski said the Wheelhouse chef will be given creative liberty in the kitchen and have the chance to create a rotating menu.
“We want people to be able to try different things, different seasonal types of things,” Dominowski said. “As you get closer to Mardi Gras and stuff, maybe we’ll do some cajun stuff, or during the summer we’ll have lighter fare or during the winter we’ll have some hearty meals.”
Although Dominowski has wanted to open a new restaurant for about a decade, but said he had difficulty finding the right location. He initially passed on the location where Wheelhouse is going now a few years ago because he thought it was too big at the time.
After Dakota PC Warehouse vacated the building, Dominowski didn’t hesitate when presented a second chance at the property. He brought on PLaN Architecture of Sioux City to help figure out a way to fill the massive space.
“When we designed this, we wanted people to first of all feel welcomed and not like they are walking into a giant gymnasium or a school lunchroom,” Dominowski said. “We want a home feel, very comfortable, a lot of TVs, someplace you can bring your family for a couple hours and not feel like you are being rushed out the door.”
When walking into the front of the Wheelhouse, visitors will enter an enclosed vestibule that will be flanked by two separate spacious dining rooms to the left and right of it.
“Just so when you walk in, there’s not [a situation] where everybody turns and looks at you,” Dominowski said. “That will also help during times like this when it's cold."
The bar area will be housed in a room in front of the vestibule and will feature a bar capable of seating about 30 people, additional seating tabletop seating and a 110-inch projection TV. Dominowski estimated there will be at least 35 TVs throughout the restaurant, none of which will be smaller than 50 inches and all of which will have 4K resolution.
In the restaurant’s northwest corner there will be a game room with "Golden Tee" and other arcade fixtures, and an adjacent golf simulator room with a 14-foot wide screen. Dominowski said the area will be comfortable and contain couches, lounge chairs, a golf viewing area and rentable lockers for people who want to leave their clubs there.
“We always wanted to do a golf simulator and we had this big space in the back — Dakota PC had just used it as a storage area — and the minute we looked at it we were like, ‘That’s it right there,’” Dominowski said.
Walls around the restaurant will be adorned with sports memorabilia collected by the Dominowski brothers and Uhl. Designs also call for a wall of fame to honor the area’s former athletic greats.
Developing a new restaurant with so many planned amenities in such a large space has been a bit of challenge, Rick Dominowski admits.
“It’s a little overwhelming sometimes,” he said. “There’s a lot that goes into that most people don’t see; a lot of little things to make sure that day you open your doors everything is right.”
Despite the amount of effort he and other have put into getting the Wheelhouse rolling, Dominowski's excitement over the place hasn’t waned.
“I wish it was open two days ago,” he said. “I’m just really looking forward to it.”