Monk's Bar was started in 1947 by Gustave Adolph Heineke and his wife, Helen, on Oak Street, just half a block from its current downtown location. The original menu consisted of a 1/4 lb. hamburger, 1/4 lb. cheeseburger, ham & cheese sandwich, liver sausage on rye, chips, chili and bean soup.
In approximately 1962, Monk's moved to its current location and the interior became a shrine of Badger memorabilia, due to the fact that Monk and Helen’s sons, Jim and John, were very successful athletes and excelled playing football at University of Wisconsin-Madison for the Badgers. Included in the memorabilia are autographed photos from Jim and John’s teammates through the years of 1952-1958. The bar has since added contemporary Badger and Packer memorabilia.
In 1982, seven years after Monk’s passing, Helen sold the bar to Tom and Jane Heller who continue to hold on to the tradition of the Badger sports bar and have expanded and developed the business to remain competitive in today’s market. They broadened the menu and seating in 1981. Then in 1999, the back half of the building was completely gutted and the second and third levels were added to create the bar as we know it today.
Monk’s Bar & Grill opened another Dells area location on the Wilderness Resort property in late 2006. Tom Heller and partners collaborated together to open the largest Monk’s Bar & Grill restaurant to date. Monk’s at the Wilderness continues the ‘Original Monk’s’ feel, but in a larger, even more sports-oriented atmosphere. The original menu was expanded to feature more burgers and sandwiches, plus wrap, salad and vegetarian options. A lower level was created to house dinner theatre performances, live entertainment and serve as a large banquet facility with a cocktail lounge atmosphere.
In January 2011, Monk’s Bar & Grill® began a new chapter with expansion outside the Dells area. From the help from the original owner’s son, Jim Heineke, a location in Middleton was purchased for Monk’s first franchise possibility. Greg Frankov, who worked for Monk’s Bar & Grill® for years and served as General Manager at the Wilderness restaurant, partnered together to open Monk’s Bar & Grill - Middleton in March 2011.
The introduction of Monk’s Bar and Grill into the Middleton/Madison market has proven to be a success. Two years later Frankov bought property in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin for his second unit to open by early December of 2014. This restaurant was Monk’s first ‘built from the ground up’ "model" of a 5,500+ square foot facility, which became the standard size of a Monk’s franchised unit.
In June 2015, Ryan Poppenga became the second franchisee within the company. Monk’s Bar & Grill - Eau Claire opened its doors in May 2016, and was rebranded to Monk’s specifications. The location’s visibility from Hwy 53 and position just outside Oakwood Mall will only aid in its success. Six months after Eau Claire's opening, a sixth Monk's location opened in Verona.
Through the last 35 years, because of the hard work and determination of key management and dedicated employees, Monk’s has developed into a must stop for visiting families and a favorite watering hole for locals.
Monk’s Bar & Grill® is known throughout the Midwest as THE place to go for a great burger and friendly service.