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313 Dodge works to define creative cocktails, food

Not quite a restaurant and not quite a bar, rather it blends both worlds

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April 2, 2024

KAUKAUNA — Through a lot of big ideas, creativity and trying things outside the box, Kyle Megna said he’s been able to find success with 313 Dodge.

Since its inception, Megna said the cocktail lounge has seen a variety of ups and downs as he has nestled into small business ownership and managed the uncertainty that accompanied a global pandemic.

How it began
The idea to purchase the 313 Dodge St. building, Megna said, came from his wife, Janel, who at the time had her own catering business.

Initially, he said, the plan was to purchase a smaller building that could house a coffee shop that offered a small menu, but “ultimately, her catering business got tied in because we were able to get something a little bigger.”

Armed with their combined experience — him as a musician familiar with venues; her back-of-the-house, catering knowledge — the duo purchased the building, obtained a liquor license and took the leap.

When plans for 313 Dodge began to take shape, Megna said in terms of food options, they were inspired by their experiences in life.

“We wanted to keep things fresh- pull things that were different from the places we traveled to and bring them to our hometown,” he said.

Many of the food options at 313 Dodge, Owner Kyle Megna said, were inspired by the places he and his wife have traveled to over the years. Chris Rugowski Photo

Diving into the cocktail lounge niche in Kaukauna — something not yet heard of in the small community — Megna said contributed to the business’s growth.

“I think it’s unique incorporating seasonal changes to the cocktail menu and food menu,” he said. “We have a creative weekly cocktail we try every week. We offer Old Fashioned flights, Mojito flights, slushy flights, frozen wine and more.”

313 Dodge, Megna said, also makes 90% of its cocktail syrups in-house, which is a great option for those who want nonalcoholic drinks.

In addition, he said, 313 Dodge offers more than 50 options of Wisconsin craft beers and 96 varieties of wine.

“It’s like a coffee shop meets brewery style meets catering place at the same time,” he said. “It’s not your typical supper club or restaurant.”

In addition to ordering at the bar, Megna said starting this month, customers will also be able to order and pay through a QR code at their table.

He said customers also now have an opportunity to rent out the 313 Dodge space for private parties or gatherings.

Pivoting as needed
With 313 Dodge’s first year of business impacted by initial start-up costs, and the next two by the COVID-19 pandemic, Megna said he learned early on how to adjust to change quickly.

“We were of the mindset we needed to be open to anything,” he said.

During the shutdown, Megna said they had to act fast and be as creative as possible.

Since any alcohol being sold needed to be factory sealed, he said they mixed and muddled drinks without the alcohol in a mason jar, leaving a little room for the alcohol to be added, and sealed the mason jar.

The patio area at 313 Dodge was added during the COVID-19 pandemic to add more seating. It has since undergone an upgrade. Chris Rugowski Photo

They attached 50 mL bottles of sealed alcohol to the mason jars and thus created drinks-to-go.

This was such a hit, Megna said, that they still employ this to date.

The building, he said, was converted into a factory-like setting with an assembly line and pick-up window — making the process easy for them and customers.

“We got a following then because of the people that supported us, and they continue to support us now,” he said.

During the biggest sales day during the pandemic, Megna said, 313 Dodge sold 733 cocktails in three hours.

He said the line wrapped around the building.

“It was great — that’s why we’re here today,” he said.

The patio — which at that time consisted of temporary fencing around the building’s walkway — Megna said provided 313 Dodge with additional seating, tables and fire pits.

“We were the only people doing that around here,” he said. “People remembered that and they continued to come back.”

Megna said 313 Dodge saw its social media followers skyrocket during the pandemic — jumping from 3,000 to 10,000 in a matter of months.

Today, he said the lounge has about 17,000 followers.

Having thousands of potential customers literally at their fingertips, Megna said, has been the easiest way for 313 Dodge to get things out there.

“It’s an arena-sized audience,” he said.

As a proud member of the Kaukauna community, Megna said it is important to him to give back to the community in any way they can.

Each year, 313 Dodge selects three nonprofits to sponsor, with 10% of sales every Tuesday going to those organizations.

Last year’s organizations were 91.1 The Avenue, 1000 Islands Environmental Center and Saving Paws Animal Rescue.

Future plans, expansions
With 2024 being the first full year of the new patio, Megna said they are working on elements to utilize that to its full potential.
This, he said, will include more events — “because when it’s nice out, people want to sit outside.”

“In the summertime, the building may be empty, and every seat will be full outside,” he said. “There’s not too many places in this area that have that option. That’s why we wanted to invest in an outdoor space.”

Megna said he hopes to increase the number of off-site catering and bartending events 313 Dodge does as well.

A customer favorite — Wine Bingo — he said, will also return to the Wine Loft this year.

A fairly new addition to 313 Dodge, Megna said the Wine Loft was inspired by Kaukauna’s lack of a bottle room.

Of the 96 offerings 313 Dodge has, he said customers may recognize three or four of them — which is intentionally done.

Owner Kyle Megna said the Wine Loft at 313 Dodge has 96 different options to choose from. Chris Rugowski Photo

Megna said he gets bottles not many people are familiar with — which ties into 313 Dodge’s mission of being creative and crafty.

“The intent is to discover something different and get outside your comfort zone,” he said.

Musician to restauranteur
When 313 Dodge opened, Megna said he was still doing music full-time — five to six gigs a week routinely.

The leap into entrepreneurship, he said, helped him dial back a bit — which was “a breath of fresh air, and a welcome change.”

“Playing that many shows in a row was becoming a job,” he said, “Now these days, I am in love with music more than I ever was because I’m able to be selective with it and still be passionate about it.”

Being a small business owner, Megna said can be “challenging in the sense you know work will come home with you a lot.”

“These days, I have a lot more responsibilities, and if something goes wrong, it falls on my shoulders,” he said.

Five years in, Megna said he’s still learning things.

“The education never stops,” he said. “(Business ownership) is a continual journey of discovery and exploration.”

Above all, Megna said he loves being a business owner.

“I love creating new things,” he said. “I love the challenge of it.”

As spring arrives and summer is on the horizon, Megna said 313 Dodge is gearing up for its seasonal lineups.

For more details, visit or check out its Facebook page.

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