Cruising down Hwy. 113 toward Madison, drivers can see the tattered sign of JJ’s Top of the Swamp just after Hwy. M has been replaced with a banner reading Murphy’s Bar and Restaurant.
Chad Franklin is the newest entrepreneur in the Town of Westport, having opened the new eatery July 15.
“It’s above expectations,” he said during an abnormally noisy Thursday afternoon. The bar had a handful of patrons finishing late lunches while conversing with each other and catching highlights on Sports Center.
Franklin spent the entire spring and early summer investing time and money into overhauling what used to be JJs Top of the Swamp bar.
Everything from replacing the weathered siding to updating the bar and putting in all new furniture went into making Murphy’s possible.
“We wanted to do it right,” he said. “We didn’t want to skimp. We tore out and replaced things.”
The work hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“(People) are just amazed at how much work we’ve done inside,” Franklin said.
Serving a fare typical of other bar and restaurants such as Mojo’s or Lucky’s in Waunakee, Murphy’s offers burgers, sandwiches and wraps.
The biggest draw, however, has been the Friday-night fish-fry.
“We’ve had a full house both Friday nights,” Franklin said.
To tag along with the Friday-night Wisconsin tradition, Murphy’s offers a Saturday prime rib dinner, too.
The food goes beyond the basic pub food, though, with a small, after-5 p.m. dinner menu in the improved dining room.
Though Fridays have been Franklin’s busiest nights, he said he’s been surprised of all of the passersby coming home from long weekends on Sunday afternoons.
“People don’t want to go home just to cook,” he said, adding they stop in and grab a bite before ramping up for the week ahead.
Because of the later than anticipated opening, Franklin said the old volleyball courts near the parking lot took a backseat.
“We wanted to get this up and running first,” he said, adding a short fall volleyball league isn’t out of the question.
“So far we’re doing great,” he said. “We’re getting the word out, and if you’ve come before, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.”