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Wildwood’s bartenders and unique bar foods make it one of Rochester’s most popular bars

Need a place for a beer and frozen pizza to bring home after? Wildwood Sports Bar and Grill may be the place for you.

Wildwood
Wildwood Sports Bar and Grill on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Rochester.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
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ROCHESTER — For nearly a decade, Wildwood Sports Bar & Grill, has been one of Rochester's more popular bar and restaurant venues.

If you stop in for a drink, a bite to eat and a fun time, it's obvious why that's the case.

“Our food is what drives this place by a lot," said Wildwood general manager Jeremy Bolton, who has been at Wildwood since it opened in Rochester in 2012. "We're not your typical bar food, we take everything to another level and that gets people in the door. We do wild game burgers, we have an elk burger on the menu. Just some creative stuff like that,” said Bolton.

In that time the business has grown with a second location in Byron that features a bowling alley. On top of that, the shutdowns of COVID-19 brought about take-home frozen pizzas and the restaurant even sells blends of spices for people to take home. Both items helped keep the business afloat and continue to be popular items today.

Not only does creative food drive people into Wildwood for the likes of happy hour, but top quality service behind the bar. Jeff Folkert, a 30-plus year bartender and one of the other employees who has been at Wildwood since the beginning, is a big reason why people across Rochester consider Wildwood the place to be for drinks.

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“Jeff’s been working here since day one. He's here five, six nights a week and there's just loads of people who come for him. He's another catalyst in this building because of his charisma with people,” said Bolton.

Folkert said it has less to do with charisma and more to do with being a good listener.

“I wouldn’t say it's my charisma, more so the ability to listen and still work at the same time. People are coming in to talk to me, I wanna listen to them talk. I might interject once in a while to the conversations, but not much more than that,” Folkert said.

Wildwood
Bartender Jeff Folkert serves up a beer on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, at Wildwood Sports Bar and Grill in Rochester.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

With strong listening skills as the top priority for Folkert, he and his coworkers have more time to focus on serving up good beers from classics such as national brands to an ever-rotating tap of local breweries with beers from South x Southeast and LTS breweries always available.

As the holiday season approaches, Wildwood gets into the gift business with gift card and spices specials at both their Rochester and Byron locations. “We'll be selling those (spices) as a package deal and then we have two gift card specials. One is to buy a $50 gift card and get one of our frozen pizzas,” said Bolton.

Wildwood
Bartender Jeff Folkert serves up a beer on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, at Wildwood Sports Bar and Grill in Rochester.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

Frozen pizzas are still fairly new to the Wildwood menu. While pizza is freshly made at the Byron location, the Rochester location has them only available to purchase to-go. “That's another point that we're really trying to push right now is the frozen pizzas because we're kind of new to that market. But people are loving them,” said Bolton.

Whether you're looking for a drink, a meal to dine-in or a pizza to take home, Bolton and company at Wildwood has grown in popularity in Rochester and now in Byron.


Wildwood Sports Bar and Grill

1517 16th St. SW, Rochester, MN 55902

507-226-8380

wildwoodsportsbarandgrill.com


Theodore Tollefson is a business reporter for the Post Bulletin. He is originally from Burnsville, Minn., and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a bachelor's degree in journalism in December 2020. Readers can reach Theodore at 507-281-7420 or ttollefson@postbulletin.com.
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