Some things are just meant to be
Her husband’s confidence in her pushed Angie Yochem to Nuckleheadz


Dec. 8, 2017

Nancy Bloom of West Bend, left, and Joanne Oneska of West Bend laugh over drinks Friday night at Nuckleheadz Bar and Grill in the town of West Bend.
John Ehlke/Daily News

TOWN OF WEST BEND — Sometimes, there isn’t an explanation for how things work out.

That is the case for Angie Yochem, owner of Nuckleheadz Bar & Grill, 3680 Highway NN.

About seven years ago, Yochem was let go from Nuckleheadz as a staff member. At that point, she had already been in the restaurant industry for more than 10 years. So, one of two things was going to happen — she would try restaurant ownership or leave the industry all together.

The folks who frequent Nuckleheadz are glad she pursued ownership as Nuckleheadz was voted as one of the 10 recommended restaurants in Washington County by Daily News readers in an informal poll.

“Life would’ve been totally different if we weren’t here,” Yochem said.

Yochem started in the restaurant and bar industry about 15 years ago, working at Stocky’s. She then went to Bender’s and then Muggles.

In 2009, she arrived at Nuckleheadz, doing just about everything, including dabbling with management. She was let go about a year later.

“At that point is when we decided I was either going to own a business or I was going to get out completely,” Yochem said.

It wasn’t that simple, though.

“I was a little apprehensive at first,” Yochem said. “It was my husband that pushed me to do it. He had confidence in me.”

Yochem said owning a restaurant or a bar was something that she always had as a goal, especially once she started in the industry. She wanted to do it because she loved the variety each day brings. Certainly, there are customers who are repeat visitors. But, for the most part, every day poses a new, but exciting challenge.

Owner Angie Yochem smiles as she talks with a customer Friday night at Nuckleheadz.
John Ehlke/Daily News

“It’s not a repetitive job,” Yochem said. “You never get bored.”

Her husband’s motivational speech, if you will, wasn’t spectacular. It was rather simple and to the point.

“He told me he had faith in me,” Yochem said.

Soon after, Yochem and her husband, Mike, sought places to buy. And one of the first ones they did was Nuckleheadz, which included making an offer. That offer was turned down and the Yochems researched other places, some they had put offers on.

For reasons unknown, the Yochems found themselves back at the doorstep of Nuckleheadz. It might not have been a coincidence after all.

“I was here for two years so I knew the area, I knew the people, I knew the building,” Angie said.

There was an accepted offer on one, but it wound up not working out.

“I think it was fate that brought us back here,” Angie said.

Angie took over ownership of Nuckleheadz on Nov. 15, 2012.

“We’ve been very lucky,” Angie said, crediting her staff and the customers. “I wouldn’t be able to do it without them. You can’t do it on your own.”

Another factor that favored Angie was the rural location on the corner of Highways NN and Z near Little Cedar Lake.

From the outside, Nuckleheadz doesn’t have the look of a restaurant. Far from it, actually. It has more of a bar facade. And that is partly because of the sand volleyball court and the youth baseball diamond surrounding the property.

But don’t be fooled, there is a dining area inside that offers mouth-savoring food.

“Amazing food and inviting atmosphere,” said Mary Kate Schmidt of West Bend.

There are also some who have found this remote location from afar.

“Excellent food all around,” said Jennifer Loomis of Norway, Michigan. “Always awesome meal no matter what you order.”

The go-to items on the menu are the burgers.

“Best burgers around,” said Alex Gannon of West Bend.

What separates these burgers is not their freshness, but what’s on the inside. That’s what counts.

“Stuffed with cheese,” Gannon said.

There are also unique burger offerings, such as the Rodeo Burger, which has barbecue sauce, pepper jack cheese and onion tanglers. There is the Poutine Burger, which has choice of cheese, cheese curds, waffle fries and gravy. That’s right. It’s on the burger, not on the side.

Getting to the five-year mark was a great moment, Angie said. Wes Krimmer, owner of Krimmer’s Restaurant, said most restaurants fail within five years of opening.

“It feels like we just opened,” she said. “We’re making it. We’re doing a good job of it, I think.”

And if restaurant ownership hadn’t worked out?

“Probably some factory job,” Angie said. “I don’t know.”

She knows she is where she belongs.

“The people that live here are wonderful,” Angie said. We’ve met some amazing people in the last five years.”


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