The Rapidian

Wealthy Street Station staying put, looking to expand

Wealthy Street Station is by no means closing its doors. Just the opposite: new proprietor Joe Welniak has big ideas for the popular East Hills burger joint.
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Location and hours

1157 Wealthy Street SE

Monday - Saturday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

 

Joe Welniak, proprietor

Joe Welniak, proprietor /Eric Tank

Dave Milanowski, manager

Dave Milanowski, manager /Eric Tank

When Robert and Carol Welniak opened Wealthy Street Station on the corner of Fuller and Wealthy in an old auto garage, they may not have known that eight years later a rash of such repurposed garages throughout the East Hills and Eastown neighborhoods would become a practical option to enhancing the vitality of such communities. Whether or not they set the trend is debatable, but the fact is that Wealthy Station was the first in the area to do so.

Not only have investors taken previously underutilized building and turned them into culinary hot spots -think Sandmann's, Donkey Taqueria and Jonny B'z new proposal- but the entire East Hills neighborhood with its three business districts has sprung to life in the past eight years with development and a growing sense of destination for visitors- and community for neighbors.

Eight years after his parents opened the Station, their son Joe Welniak, an electrician by trade, has taken the helm of the burger joint. Together with manager Dave Milanowski, they plan to make some changes. Contrary to the rumor that the grill is closing, both Welniak and Milanowski are committed to the success of the restaurant and serving the community they love. 

"We're going to try to do more organic, more local produce and meats. We're also going to start selling local beer and wine," says Joe Welniak. "We have great burgers, and what's better than a great beer with a burger," says Welniak with a robust laugh. He would also like to include a more vegan and gluten friendly menu.

"I'm looking to purchase equipment so I can use it solely for the vegan and gluten free menus. Right now I'm really limited to what I can do until that happens, but that is definitely something in our future, absolutely," says Welniak.

Structurally Welniak says he would like to build a deck off the west flank of the building and expand some of the dining area inside as well. Most patrons of Wealthy Station order their food for takeout but Welniak would like to be able to expand the north end kitchen which would make even more room for a full sit down restaurant. Together with the added space and a beer and wine menu, he hopes to accomplish this in the next couple of years. 

Welniak says he has been in the neighborhood most of his life.

"My grandmother owned the store across the street since 1957 before they sold it to the bank, and my parents have actually owned this building since 1980. I really spent most of my life right here on this corner," says Welniak.

The building was used sporadically by the Welniaks, a brief catering business and then the couple rented it out for mixed uses. Falling into disrepair, there came a point when the building either need to be razed or restored. The Welniaks chose the latter and Wealthy Station was born.

"Really, when it comes to this neighborhood -I remember back when it was a pretty rough corner. To see it developing and changing in a positive manner, we just want to be a part of it," says Welniak.

Welniak spent 20 years as an electrician but was never far away from the kitchen. His mother Carol has been in the catering business most of his life. Since taking over the business in November of 2013 he has been able to turn his profession towards a vocation.

"I really love what I do here. I have a passion for it and have no desire to stop anytime soon," says Welniak.

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