Wimpy’s opens on Superior Avenue in Crystal Falls
CRYSTAL FALLS — Locals fondly remember The Bacco’s Cafe and Tavern, Sparky’s Bar and Grill, Miller’s Bar and Grill, O’Malley Bar and Grill, and Generations as regular sites to socialize in the heart of the city.
Now Wimpy’s Pub is at that same 329 Superior Ave. location in Crystal Falls.
David and Ann Ponchaud opened Wimpy’s this past Memorial Day. The business is named for Ponchaud’s great-uncle, William Ponchaud, who was a fixture there for years.
“It was his home town bar. If there were family doings, nobody looked for him at home, they came here,” Ponchaud said, adding, “He was very generous when we were kids. He always bought the kids pop when they came in.”
The couple had planned to open the business the very day the state ordered businesses closed due to COVID-19. Luckily, both owners have full-time jobs — Ann is a cook at the Iron County Medical Care Facility and David a bus driver for the Forest Park School District.
Although COVID slowed their start, it didn’t have a huge impact on the new business. “Even during COVID, the calls we got for to-go orders were great,” Ann Ponchaud said. “It’s nice to have a community that supports us and everything we do.”
The Ponchauds are attempting to improve the Crystal Falls community one business at a time. “We try to get businesses going and then sell them,” David Ponchaud said.
Most recently, the couple operated Superior Sport and Feed for five years.
“We just sold that to a couple who came in and asked us about it and that was perfect because they love it. They are putting their heart into it,” David Ponchaud said.
“And it’s another business that’s open downtown,” Ann Ponchaud said. “We are enjoying bringing these old buildings back to life again.”
The two have been married for 20 years, and have two children, Robert and Morgan.
They made lots of improvements on the bar before opening. Both Forest Park graduates, the Ponchauds painted the bar the Trojans’ school colors of red and black. An older gentleman donated the piano that was in Miller’s Bar years ago. They restored the old snack bar that allows them to cook burgers behind the bar and still wait on customers, and they brought in an old jukebox from the Mapleton in Bates.
“We trying to bring it back to what we remember as kids,” Ann Ponchaud said.
“I have pictures of my great-aunt playing the piano here,” said Dave Ponchaud.
It’s all about the memories. They even have a corner with a “Those Were the Days” poster of Edith and Archie Bunker from “All In The Family” on the piano. Under the poster are signs and photos from the previous taverns.
Along with the Ponchauds, the establishment will employ six people and offer bar food. Favorites on the menu include their Wimpy’s Burger, a 2/3rd-pound beef patty with lettuce, tomato and onion; and their signature mixed drink, the Wimpy’s Tea, which is similar to a Long Island Ice Tea and served in a Mason jar.
“Our burgers and tea are a hit right now,” Dave Ponchaud said.
The business will offer pool, darts, foosball, live piano music and an occasional DJ. The bar has five beers on tap — Miller Lite, Bud Light, Coors Light, Keweenaw Pick Axe Blond and Keweenaw Widow Maker — along with liquor, bottled beer and bottled pop.
“People really like the bottles of Coke,” Dave Ponchaud said.
The tavern’s current schedule is noon to 10 p.m. Sundays, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesdays and 10 a.m. to close Thursday through Saturday. The bar for now remains closed on Mondays and Wednesdays to deep clean.
How long the tavern will operate as Wimpy’s is tough to predict, the couple said. The Ponchauds plan to continue to improve and open businesses in their city for as long as they can.
“Once it gets established,” Dave Ponchaud said, “we would like to move away from this one and work on another one.”
Theresa Proudfit can be reached at 906-774-2772, ext. 245, or firstname.lastname@example.org.