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A place for people to gather, socialize, relax

After: A Social Club in De Pere opened its doors earlier this month

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March 22, 2023

DE PERE – If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again – Chad Nehring said those words definitely ring true for him and his brother Jamie Cravillion, owners of After: A Social Club, which opened March 10 in De Pere.

“We previously attempted a restaurant and lounge in the space in addition to running the ComedyCity venue,” Nehring, who also co-owns ComedyCity, (located next door to the new social club), said. “Honestly, while we had great staff and customers, we weren’t all that unique.”

Nehring said prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, they were probably better comedians than restaurateurs.

“So, we downsized into just the adjacent theater area, where ComedyCity remains today,” he said. 

Since then, Nehring said the After space went through a couple of different occupants but had recently been vacant.

“It’s a cool, historic place with ‘good bones,’ and we kicked around a number of ideas with our landlord for the space,” he said. “De Pere has got a vibe that seems to fit our concept.”?

With the “great things” to do downtown – including stores, restaurants and businesses, along with the soon-to-be-open Mulva Cultural Center – “we felt a quiet vibe where good discussions could take place was needed.”

“I’ve been out with family and friends after dinner or a show with few options of things to do after,” he said. “We wanted to go somewhere that was quieter where we could continue a conversation.”

Nehring said they have also been seeing a massive uptick in requests for private event space for smaller groups.

A brothers’ venture
After: A Social Club is a joint venture of brothers Nehring and Cravillion.

“My brother and I have only known each other about 15 years, as I’m adopted and didn’t get to meet him until my mid-30s,” Nehring said. “We’re uncannily alike and both enjoy starting and running businesses.”

Nehring said he and Cravillion share many of the same interests, including aviation.

In fact, he said, the idea of After was brainstormed at last year’s EAA AirVenture.

“We were sitting in the campground during EAA AirVenture last year talking about the vacant space and what we might be able to do with it,” he said. “We continued the discussions the remainder of summer and into fall, and eventually, decided to move forward with the concept.”

Nehring said being in the space previously made things easier – in terms of knowing what they were getting into and learning from past successes and mistakes.

“We worked closely with our landlord and also received a Main Street grant that helped us with some startup funds,” he said. “From there, it was the usual flurry of getting things in order to get a business off the ground and running.”

Nehring said taking it a bit slower has allowed them to be deliberate with their decisions.

“We’ve also been blessed with good staff, good vendor partners and feel After will be a nice compliment to downtown,” he said.

A complimenting niche
Nehring said he sees After complimenting the other business in De Pere’s downtown.

“We have awesome neighboring establishments that have been around a long time,” he said. “We feel we’ll be a compliment to them, to the downtown area and that patrons will visit all of us.”

In terms of atmosphere, Nehring said they are going for a “dark, intimate, quiet vibe.”

“(A place) where people can put their phones down and carry on a conversation,” he said. “There’s so much ‘noise’ today that we hope not having loud music, televisions, sports, but just some friendly live piano music in the background would be unique.”

With that, Nehring said, comes a full bar menu.

“We have some great, experienced bartenders who love their craft, so we’re looking forward to what they create, including some non-alcoholic mocktail selections,” he said. “We are cultivating our scotch whisky and wine offerings, so those will continue to develop. One addition we are strongly considering was actually the genesis of the campground discussion, which was literally, ‘a grasshopper would taste great right now.’ We’d like to eventually offer craft ice cream drinks, in addition to our other beverage lines.”

Nehring said so far, the early buzz of After: A Social Club has been strong.

“We’ve not honestly had a whole lot of time to do much official marketing, but the word of mouth seems to be strong,” he said.

Nehring said the short-term stresses involved in starting a business, “pale in comparison” to the long-term fun of being able to do a business with your brother.

“No lie, there are nights we sit there after both working our regular careers during the daytime, covered in dust wondering, and say ‘What have we done here?’” he laughed. “But, we enjoy working with each other and bouncing ideas off one another. There will be a point when I sit back with an Old Fashioned, listen to the piano and relax.”

More to come
Nehring said he and Cravillion would love to see After be a great private venue spot and have a good following “After” people visit other downtown businesses.

“That could be one of our ComedyCity shows, something at the Mulva or St. Norbert College or after a great meal at one of our neighboring restaurants,” he said.

As for the future, Nehring said he has ideas.

“It’s my long-term hope to transition ComedyCity and maybe this operation into a cooperative that would be owned by and support performing artists in the area,” he said. “But we’ve got a ways to go on that.”

For now, Nehring said After is excited to be a part of the growing De Pere community.

After: A Social Club, located at 365 Main Ave, Suite D, is open from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday evenings.

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