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Watch now: Taqueria Pato Azul restaurant opens in downtown La Crosse

From the COLLECTION: Local business openings & developments series
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La Crosse native Erik Kleven and his business partner Jennifer Lester opened Taqueria Pato Azul restaurant on Monday in the former Fat Porcupine Noodle Bar restaurant at 127 S. Fourth St. in downtown La Crosse.

Kleven and Lester, both of Rochester, Minn., continue to operate the Bleu Duck Kitchen restaurant in downtown Rochester, which they opened in 2016. “Pato Azul” is Spanish for “blue duck.”

Kleven said the new La Crosse restaurant serves authentic Mexican food “with a Bleu Duck twist.” He added, “We try to do things a little different” at both restaurants.

The La Crosse restaurant’s menu includes boutique Maine oysters, noodle bowls with a Latin flair, gourmet tacos and a “more bites” section with such fare as elote dogs (a hot dog with Mexican street corn), ceviche, Mexican fruit cup, tres leches (three-milk) cake and Takis beef sticks.

The beverage menu includes cocktails, several kinds of beer (most of which are Mexican) and Spanish wines.

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Erik Kleven shows some of the bright colors in the new Taqueria Pato Azul restaurant in downtown La Crosse, ranging from chairs to paintings, walls and dyed macrame wall hangings. The restaurant opened Monday at 127 S. Fourth St. in downtown La Crosse.

The La Crosse restaurant can seat about 65 people and is full of bright colors, from its chairs to the paint and decor on its walls.

To start with, Taqueria Pato Azul is open from 4 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 4 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. “Hopefully, within a few weeks or a month, we’ll be opening at 11 a.m. for lunch,” Kleven said. “We might be open on Sundays down the road.”

Kleven was born in La Crosse, where his family lived until they moved to the West Coast when he was in seventh grade.

For more information, call the restaurant at 608-519-3036 or visit www.taqueriapatoazul.com or Facebook.


Gregg Scharf, owner of Garrison Counseling Inc. at 319 Main St., will open his new Garrison Therapies Driifloat Center on Monday in Suite 300 on the third floor of the Powell Place building at 200 Main St. in downtown La Crosse.

The new dry float therapy center offers float therapy without getting wet, having to change clothes or shower, and has three Driifloat tanks made in England. “This is the first Driifloat center in Wisconsin and these tanks are designed to give an authentic float experience without any direct contact with the heated salt water,” Scharf said. “People choose a 30-, 60- or 90-minute session, remove their shoes, empty their pockets, lay back and float.”

Scharf also said that “the benefits of floating can be experienced both physically and mentally through promoting resilience, reducing stress, prompting mindfulness, help with pain associated with muscle tension or injury, and even speed up recovery. People come out of a float feeling very relaxed, yet also recharged and ready to take on the day.”

Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and Scharf hopes to add weekend hours. People can book floats online or by calling 608-881-6028. For more information, call that number or visit www.garrisontherapies.com or Facebook.


Britt Henze opened Pamperin Salon & Spa on Sept. 1 in the former Pamperin Cigar Co. factory building at 115 S. Second St. in downtown La Crosse.

The new business cuts hair for men, women and children, and also offers coloring, waxing and eyelash extensions, said Henze, who has been a cosmetologist for nearly 11 years. The salon has two hair stylists and has room for two more, she said. She also is looking for a massage therapist or an aesthetician.

The salon and spa also displays and sells artwork created by Dulaney Artworks in La Crosse, and sells environmentally friendly and cruelty-free hair care products. It has a play room for children, and some artifacts from the building’s days as a cigar factory are on display.

“I’ve always loved this building,” Henze said of her decision to open Pamperin Salon & Spa. “I used to come in here when it was Kick (shoe store) and loved the vibe in here.”

The salon and spa is open Tuesday through Sunday. Its grand opening celebration will be from 3 to 6 p.m. Nov. 5, with snacks, refreshments, specials and giveaways.

For more information, call 608-498-5530 or visit the salon and spa’s Facebook page.


Brilliant Bodywork MedSpa at 314 Main St. in downtown Onalaska will move to 415 N. Sixth St., in the Hub on 6th building in downtown La Crosse, by Jan. 1.

The business is owned by Stephanie Andresen-Stevens and her husband, Adam Stevens, who say it began in 2008 and has outgrown its Onalaska location. The new location has about 6,500 square feet of space, up from 3,500 square feet at the Onalaska site, and will include a community education center that will be available to rent and will host continuing education events.

Brilliant Bodywork has 12 employees and will be able to hire 12 more with the expansion.

It offers such services as skin rejuvenation, massages, acne treatments, tattoo removal, skin resurfacing, permanent hair reduction, chemical peels, body treatments, luxury facials, waxing, body contouring, oncology treatments, microdermabrasion, spa day for bridal parties and weight loss. “We also focus on laser skincare procedures and plan to add on IV hydration therapy and cosmetic injections such as Botox and fillers,” Adam Stevens said.

The new location also will house the Restorative Ink nonprofit organization, which offers free tattoo removal services for survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking.

For more information, call 608-783-8380 or visit www.brilliantbodywork.com or Facebook.

Steve Cahalan can be reached at stevecahalan.reporter@gmail.com.

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