By Jean Detjen, ‘Artful Living’
At The Source Public House, art is on the menu. Literally. Menasha’s trendiest hotspot is a dynamic cornucopia of gastropub, beergarden, music venue, and art oasis. It’s fast becoming a destination location for those in-the-know about great music, food and creative expression. If you haven’t been there yet, what’s on stage may surprise you!
A wide, black-curtained stage is the focal point of this diversely appealing restaurant and entertainment hub. The Source delights guests with a hip, colorful chorus of live music, original paintings by local artists, and a delectable array of food and beverage offerings.
Owner Dan Long says, “At The Source we showcase original, local and touring talent as much as possible. We feature performing, visual, and also culinary artists, highlighting locally sourced food, a full bar, and Wisconsin brews.”
Craft beers offered change almost every day and a new keg is cracked open most days. “We like to mix up the style of beers we feature, setting our establishment apart from most others in the area. We don’t carry any domestic beers, only PBR in a 16 oz can for nostalgia purposes,” he says with a smile. Fourteen different varieties of Wisconsin made beers are currently on tap.
A lounge-pub hybrid of sorts that attracts an eclectic demographic, The Source is designed with casual comfort in mind. “Everyone is welcome here, and we encourage people to come as they are,” says Long, donned casually in a t-shirt, jeans, knit cap and fleece jacket. “You don’t have to wear fancy clothes to enjoy good drinks, food, and music. Baseball caps and a nice bottle of wine go just fine together here.”
According to patron Steve Smits, The Source has the “best sound system for a club their size north of Milwaukee. Who else in the area has a dog friendly patio? No one. And they host live music almost every night of the week focusing on original hand crafted artists. If I could hug the entire building in my arms I would.”
Rover and Fluffy would likely agree. During the summer months, an expansive, thoughtfully designed pet-friendly outdoor patio with grass and stone pathway beckons. Long says that the sunset views from the inviting west-facing patio are spectacular, adding natural art to the landscape of the Source’s offerings.
“We are a unique destination restaurant in the Fox Cities. Our focus is on providing a comfortable, casual atmosphere for dining during the day and early evening that is perfect for a date, a meeting with friends, or a dinner with your family. In the evenings we transform into a lively music-infused bar.”
Long says they “wanted to flip the script” on food sourcing practices, going to local farmers to see what they have to offer and then developing a menu around those items. This method allows them to get the highest quality ingredients and then turn it over to Executive Chef Adam Devons and his kitchen staff to accent the best flavors of the season’s harvest.
“Our many, great local farmers, ranchers, and fisherman work hard day in and day out to produce the highest quality fruits, vegetables, meats, and fish, without the aid of pesticides or added hormones. It’s our duty at The Source Public House, to ensure that effort shines through by creating dishes that show off the vivid, true flavors of these ingredients,” adds Long.
One also can’t help but notice a large handcrafted dichroic glass pendant hung on a simple cord on his neck. Long says he’s been wearing his “good mojo” necklace for 10-11 years and “feels naked without it.” Says Long, “this piece has been to a lot of places with me where there’s been good energy. It captures and radiates it.”
As dichroic glass displays varying color tones as a result of the light, The Source projects different hues as a venue depending on the gleam of entertainment offered, time of day, and season. The ability to re-invent the atmosphere based on the mood and food envisioned is key to The Source’s adaptable business model.
“I’ve lived out West and traveled to more than forty states and have seen lots of cool spots that have provided inspiration. What’s been formed here has been a culmination of what I’ve seen on my travels, ultimately shaped into a mix of local food, music and art that people want to see and hear. Alchemy Café in Madison was a bit of a template for us but we made it our own based on our local market.”
Rotating menu items are “adjusted based on what’s locally available and fresh, offering customers the best taste-experience possible. The focus is on smaller, elongated, shareable plates which are more approachable and definitely designed for group sampling.”
While providing the perfect space for guests to connect while sharing food and music, The Source also strives to reconnect people to the land around them. “Our state’s plentiful bounty includes a wide variety of fresh vegetables, fruits, honey, syrups, meat, fish, and poultry. We want our customers to enjoy the delicious difference in our primarily locally sourced dishes while also letting people know about where the food we serve comes from.”
Farm-raised fresh fish is always available – typically trout, salmon and/or bluegill – which is sourced from Wisconsin and other areas of the Midwest. Grass fed beef burgers are another popular menu item. Exceptional flavor and quality are the goals, as is offering food that encourages customers to stay and come back for more. “The menu changes monthly, so there are always new, fresh creations to try,” says Long.
“How we source our food is the most important aspect of our menu, as emphasized by the first part of our establishment’s name. We added the words ‘Public House’ to our business name for that very reason. This is a place for families, singles, couples and, really, all ages. Depending on the time of day or night, we have something for everyone.”
That “something” includes hearty helpings of live music 4-7 days per week, making The Source a growing destination site for Fox Cities music aficionados. The site’s layout and acoustics are designed so that the stage is the focal point. Having affiliations with music artists, sound masters and organizers connected to Appleton’s dynamic and growing Mile of Music Festival and its offshoots has been a tremendous benefit.
Original music artist and performer Nicole Rae (of The Traveling Suitcase and Wilfret & Miss) is impressed with The Source’s “great local food” and a “menu always showcasing new entrees.” Rae also appreciates the “beautiful sounding room in a unique space” adding that “any performer would and will be pleased with their experience there.”
A “boomy” 5,000+ square foot room, natural acoustic sound absorbers are hung up on the walls amid an array of art for sale, looking very at home with their colorful companions. The treatment panels tacked about at various angles throughout were crafted from burlap fabric over recycled denim and carpet fiber insulation.
“The PA was certainly a thought out entity, with improvements to be added very soon, including additional monitor mixes, multi-track recording and a signal feed to and from the patio, says The Source’s chief audio engineer, Aaron Duester-Hoff. “There are also plans to work closely with SecondHand Studios and future bands to compile a ‘Live at the Source’ album.”
“The Source is a delight for both patrons and performers,” says musician Christopher Gold. “ They put extra effort into everything they do and it shows. Aaron is great, the sound is phenomenal, the whiskey is plentiful, and the nachos changed my life.”
Enthusiastic customer Todd Van Hammond agrees, saying he “cannot write a review of the cheese curds or pizza without expletives!!”
The extra effort put out by The Source also includes sharing the spotlight with local visual artists. The restaurant’s colorful walls are covered in art. Says Long, “We support these artists by offering a place for them to display and sell their work. When an art piece sells the proceeds go to the artist and a new painting, drawing, photograph, or other artistic piece takes its place. It creates a wonderful and changing atmosphere for our guests while providing income to numerous artists that would otherwise not have a place to show their work.”
“We are always looking for new art and welcome any family-friendly submissions,” says Long. “Brittany Vera, server and art curator on staff here, will help you through the process.”
While you’re waiting for the addictive nachos, pizza, or cheese curds, be sure to ask to see the hand screen printed art menu where you can learn more about what’s for sale on the walls. Where else can you order carry-out food and a cool, original painting?
Appreciative repeat customer Jess Grim appreciates the artistic focus. “The Source is a unique place where you can go to gather with your closest friends, where Wisconsin’s bounty of truly artisan food is available and talented artists are able to showcase their talents.”
We want guests to “see our place as a source of the community,” says Long. “Come for the music, be surprised by the food!”
Regular customer Felicia Lyons Rashid couldn’t be more pleased about the community palette provided by this unique establishment. “It’s that place you wish everyone you knew took an opportunity to experience. Not only is the food from local vendors, it is unique, fresh and mouth watering. The environment is warm, classy and filled with art inspired pieces throughout the establishment. You also have the privilege of listening to live original bands almost every night of the week! Once you visit this place you know you will be back!”
Destination unknown? Not so once you experience all The Source Public House has to offer. The Source serves lunch and dinner with brunch on Sundays and is located at 890 Lake Park Road in Menasha. For more information about hours, menu, live music, and other special events, contact them at (920) 830-2050 or visit their website at www.thesourcepublichouse.com. You can also follow The Source on Twitter and Facebook and sign up for their newsletter.
Music artists who wish to perform at The Source are asked to submit for consideration via firstname.lastname@example.org. Visual artists interested in having their art displayed for sale on The Source walls are encouraged to email information via email@example.com.
Living artFULLY in the heart of Wisconsin firstname.lastname@example.org