Vagabond Kitchen wants to Expand Menu and Bar Options, may seek Relocation

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One Wheeling restaurant with a growing following may have to relocate due to issues with expanding their menu and bar options.

The Vagabond Kitchen in Downtown Wheeling has been open and located on the first floor of the McLure Hotel since July but now owner Matt Welsch may have to reconsider the location of his business to expand his beverage options. 

Since opening their doors for the first time, the Vagabond Kitchen has become an instantly popular restaurant in the Friendly City.

“I’ve liked everything that I’ve gotten from there,” said Turbo Tax Downtown Owner Sam Lapp.

Welsch said he loves what he does and he is happy to be apart of a growing trend to help revitalize Downtown Wheeling.

“When my wife and I returned from the west, we were really amazed at the positive energy that was going on in Wheeling at the time,” said Welsch. “Having lived here most of my life and always coming home to see that energy was something that I really wanted to be apart of.” 

Now after being open for nearly a year, Welsch has been trying to advance his business and make Downtown Wheeling more marketable as a destination for dining and fun. He has stumbled into some obstacles that may force him into finding a new location, something he said is not an ideal situation.  

“People want to have beer or a glass of wine with their dinner and microbrews and small craft beers and artisan wines are something we’ve always wanted to offer on our menu,” said Welsch.

However, Welsch said when they first opened last summer, they were told they would be able to have the required license they need in July.

Nearly a year later, that hasn’t happened. At one point, he was offering his patrons the option of bringing their own alcoholic beverages, but that was quickly stopped.

“We would be able to do BYOB, except that we are on the footprint of the license for the bar next door,” said Welsch. “A lot of people upon hearing that say ‘What? There’s a bar next door?’ because this bar caters to the hotel guests only. I don’t really think anyone comes in from the community to go to the bar.”

Catering to more than just the guests at the McLure Hotel is something that is rooted in the Vagabond Kitchen’s mission, and Welsch said he’s going to do all he can to hold true to the community.

“Our mission statement here at the Vagabond Kitchen is hand-crafted food, rooted in local community, so the community to us is just as important as the food,” said Welsch.

Welsch said changing locations is something he would like to avoid, because he’s always seen the current location as an incubator for his business.

However, the man who runs Harrigan’s in the MClure said there are two sides to every story.

Robert Weimar said he wanted to work with Welsch to provide liquor and beer for his patrons.

He said he has even offerred to sell the bar to him. Weimar claimed everyone knew from the start the Vagabond owner would not be able to get his liquor license when there was a bar already in the hotel.

Stick with 7News for more updates on Vagabond Kitchen’s fate.

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