After more than a few restaurants have tried to make a go of it at the Westwood Centre mall's end location, Jim Laabs and co-owner and fiance Tracy Horan seem to have a smart philosophy as they undergo work to open their restaurant there, Delish! New American Grill.
"We'd like to be open by mid-March, but we wanted to make sure everything is in place and looking right," Horan said. "It's more important that it looks complete before we have people in.
"You get a customer in, and if their first impression's not great, they won't likely come back a second time."
Horan shared her concept for redoing the interior of the dining area, which was the former Papa Joe's, and it plays off of the black and white checkerboard tile floor.
"We liked the flooring so we took it from there," she explained. "I'd like to have it be somewhat reminiscent of the 50's but nothing over the top."
Shiny red booths reminiscent of the seats in a '57 Chevy, pendant lighting to match and a large mural on the wall are just a part of the plans for the new diner, which will feature all-American sandwiches and hand-dipped malts and shakes.
The couple even contacted and joined the Muskego Historical Society to see what could be incorporated with Dandelion Park in artwork on the walls.
"We live not too far from Waukesha South High School, and have kids who bring their friends home for lunch," explained Laabs. "Over the years, we've just gotten creative with cooking, and Tracy's told me I need to do this for a living."
Laabs' job has involved a lot of travel, and he said the lifestyle has gotten a bit old. He admits to having the itch to buy a restaurant for a while, and has been an owner years before in Florida.
Gourmet burgers, dogs, and chicken sandwiches with a little flair will be part of the menu, and the couple say the idea is to serve only fresh and nothing frozen to maximize taste. The size of the interior also had Horan thinking that they could also treat the back area like an ice cream bar, with fresh hand dipped milkshakes served up.
"I just think that anytime you've had a really good meal, you lean back and say, 'ooh, that was sooo delish!' and I feel that's what people will say when they've tried the food here," said Horan.