Business of the Week: West Side Tasty Treat – A Taste of Manila

Pilot and review of Wausau

Editor’s Note: Company of the week is a sponsored article that shares the stories of locally owned and operated businesses in the Wausau area, highlighting the products and services they offer and how they contribute to the unique flavor of the metropolitan area. Learn how to present your business by emailing [email protected]

This week’s featured business is West Side Tasty Treat – A Taste of Manila, 118 S. Third Ave., Wausau. For Wausau natives and longtime residents alike, West Side Tasty Treat is a decades-long summer tradition with friendly employees serving ice cream, hot dogs, and other tasty food in the west end of town. But new owners Ed and Marjorie Giallombardo put their own unique twist on the walk-in booth, bringing authentic, home-made Filipino cuisine to Wausau and adding live and family entertainment to the newly built stage. Manager Ed Giallombardo has a separate full-time job as a software engineer, but handles back-end paperwork and inventory. He is also the frontman of “Westside Tasty Beats,” the live music house band that draws people from all over Marathon County. Chef Marjorie Giallombardo is the artist behind the incredibly delicious and innovative menu, hand crafting each of the recipes in her native tradition. Among the offerings: Lechon Liempo – a delicious pork belly bathed in a traditional Filipino marinade and fried until crisp, accompanied by a sweet vinegar sauce. Or try the Chicken Pancit Bihon – a traditional birthday dish consisting of pancit noodles mixed with chicken and sautéed with garlic, onions, soy sauce, vegetables and seasonings. These are just two of the features designed by Marjorie, who does most of the cooking while still finding time to raise two young children. Together, the couple breathe new life into Wausau’s dining scene, adding a much-needed touch in a truly unique setting. Try the food once – and we guarantee you’ll come back for more, again and again. And don’t worry, you can always buy ice cream and hot dogs when you visit. Here, Ed describes the couple’s vision, passion for their business and community, and their plans for the future in Wausau.

The West Side Tasty Treat – A Taste of Manila team: (Left to right) Marco Woosencraft, Ashley Elsmo, Marj Giallombardo, Ed Giallombardo

Q: When was your business started and what prompted you to get started?

A: West Side Tasty Treat has been locally owned and operated since 1967. We reopened with the “A Taste of Manila” pop-up kitchen in November 2020, adding ice cream, hot dogs and other West Side Traditional tasty treat. menu items in April 2021. We have always wanted to run a food truck because my wife loves to cook and receives many accolades for her cooking. Also, since there is no Filipino cuisine nearby, we wanted to bring that flavor to the Wausau area.

Q: How did you choose the name of your company? What are you trying to convey?

Our goal is to provide delicious Filipino cuisine from the little corner of the Philippines from Marj, halfway around the world to Wausau. Manila being the most famous city on its island, everything was fine. We use real Filipino ingredients wherever possible to provide the most authentic Filipino experience possible. On the other side of the house, we try to preserve as much as possible the history and menu of the original West Side Tasty Treat, as well as new elements and shows.

Q: Tell us more. What are some of the foods you offer and do you provide entertainment for?

We really have two businesses in one: West Side Tasty Treat, which offers traditional soft treats as well as hot dogs and other traditional American hot dishes, and A Taste of Manila: a full W-Sat dinner service featuring a Filipino cuisine and restaurant service. There is some crossover as things like lumpia rolls and pork belly are available during our non-dinner hours and the Tasty Treat Soft Serve and Treats are available during dinner service. Along with these two offerings, we also set up a 20ft by 30ft tent and stage to provide live entertainment. We have our house band “The Westside Tasty Beats” which will be performing regularly Thursdays all summer from 6-8pm, and we hope to book other special events as opportunities arise. Our goal is really to be the complete package: you can bring your family for dinner, dessert and a show!

Craig Bushey, left, and Ed Giallonbardo perform on July 8, 2021 at the West Side Tasty Treat. Photo: Christina Kimball for Wausau Pilot & Review

Q: What makes your business unique? What sets you apart?

The food is truly unique to the area, as far as I know we are the only ice cream shop with live entertainment and full dinner service. I can safely say that we may be the only Filipino ice cream / food combo out there.

Q: What do you like the most about your job? What attracted you to this job?

For me, it’s about interacting with people, I love to hear the compliments we get from Marj’s food, especially from people who are trying Filipino food for the first time. Also, playing live for kids is just great, they have so much energy and aren’t afraid to get up and dance, a very different experience than adults who can just see the music as their backdrop. background of everything they do. And as an added bonus, kids (usually) don’t have cell phones to watch all the time.

For Marj, it’s all about cooking, making great food that people love and appreciate. A kitchen that fires on all cylinders is a beautiful thing, it sure can be stressful at times but at the end of the day there is a certain satisfaction in a hard job well done.

Q: Have you changed and evolved over time? What is different now?

Being brand new to running a kitchen and cooking at this volume and pace, our processes are constantly evolving. We had a pretty good pace over the winter, but adding the softs and hotdogs menu in addition to Filipino cuisine certainly presented some challenges in such a small space. This first year is definitely a year of learning and we don’t expect things to really stabilize until fall, when we can refocus on Filipino cuisine and then reassess our strategy for next spring.

Q: What challenges did you have to overcome? Basically, if you had to do it all over again, would you do something different?

Oh boy where do I start… Opening a restaurant in the midst of a pandemic, a whole new kitchen in a region, while learning to run a business and raise a family at the same time, not to mention my other full time job. It has been a roller coaster ride and I am always amazed that we have come this far when I think about all the challenges we have faced and overcome. I am very proud of my wife Marj, all this time she has been so strong, working nonstop to keep the food flowing. Getting out of your comfort zone and boldly jumping into something like this is something to be proud of. Unless you’ve been running a small business I’m not sure most people can understand how difficult it is. And every parent knows the challenges of raising 1 and 2 year olds.

If we started over, there are certainly things I could have improved, whether or not to buy this or that, more focused on signage or advertising earlier perhaps. Maybe we could have had our kids 12 years ago so they could help us! Seriously, I think we did it in the best order possible: focusing on food quality and delivery first, then working on the other stuff. If you don’t have a quality product, nothing else really matters in the end.

Q: What are your hopes and dreams for the future? Where do you see your business in five years? ten?

On the “A Taste of Manila” side, we’re really hoping to grow the Filipino food business, getting more lumpia rolls in more mouths, so to speak. Most people haven’t tried our cooking, so I think there is still plenty of room to grow there. Most of our business is from loyal customers, which is encouraging, but that means we aren’t getting the word out as well as we could. Additionally, we would like to do more catering including onsite events. We will be providing food on site during the Wausau Paddle Pub Crawl on July 31st which should be a good test for that. Additionally, we recently hosted a live band at the nearby 101 pub on site.

On the entertainment side our hope is that with the tent on site and the live music we can bring more families into the “dinner and show” concept, it is really a good deal and I am not sure there is. have many elsewhere in the region. Having a mix of Filipino and American food options should also help, there is something for everyone. Currently we only have hot dogs and fries, but we plan to add burgers, cheese curds and onion rings from Townline Market soon.

Looking further ahead, we hope to have a strong mobile presence, maybe a food truck or just a small trailer or cart where we can bring our food to places like The 400 Block and elsewhere. Right now the main focus has to be the main business, but it’s definitely on our minds.

The West Side Tasty Treat team. Photo: Christina Kimball / Wausau Pilot & Review

Connect with West Side Tasty Treat:

A taste of Manila

118 S. Third Ave., Wausau

Visit their website here and follow them on Facebook here.

See their full menu and order online here. Orders available for catering or pickup service. Delivery available via EatStreet.

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