Chef and entrepreneur Tyler Sailsbery officially opened the doors of his restaurant The Black Sheep last Thursday.
With the overwhelming response to the opening, the new restaurant, located at 210 W. Whitewater St. downtown Whitewater, was only able to seat guests with reservations for its first two nights of operation.
“We say we are The Black Sheep because we are different.” Sailsbery said. “My philosophy for The Black Sheep is ‘know where your food comes from.’ We’re not perfect, but we try to do it at a price point that works for people.”
Sailsbery said The Black Sheep is place where people are able to relax in a kind of homey, yet rustic, setting and that he wants people to feel as if they are able to simply “come as they are.”
According to Sailsbery, the restaurant will feature a casual dining experience for its guests complete with a menu of dishes using the finest seasonal and locally purchased ingredients as well as a wide selection of craft beers and wines.
“It’s great for Whitewater to have a finer selection of food,” former Whitewater Student Government President Andrew Whaley said. “It’s unique; [Sailsbery] definitely has a lot of talent.”
Whaley said he expects the restaurant to attract people from all over, including outside of Whitewater.
The space that The Black Sheep occupies was remodeled almost entirely with the help of college students and friends.
“We poured this [cement] bar top on New Year’s Eve,” Sailsbery said. “People would bring friends over. People I had never met before would volunteer, and they all helped build the restaurant.”
Junior Chris Pirkey, a UW-Whitewater student who helped Sailsbery with the remodel of the restaurant, said he would do anything for people that come from Whitewater.
“It’s cool that [Sailsbery] went to [UW-Whitewater] and that now he brings into the community a new business as well,” Pirkey said.
Pirkey added that he thought the restaurant was going to be a great hit as a romantic date spot, which is something he feels Whitewater doesn’t have.
Sailsbery said it was great to see the support from the students and community. Even Chancellor Richard Telfer and Provost Beverly Kopper offered their support and suggestions to making the new restaurant a success.
Sailsbery, who graduated from UW-Whitewater in 2010, was a non-traditional student who had already trained as a chef before coming to the university. The Black Sheep is the second business Sailsbery has started since receiving his undergraduate degree.
According to Sailsbery, much of the start-up capital for his first business, NoMoreDorms.com, an online listing of off-campus student housing from numerous landlords in Whitewater and Madison, came from winning the Collegiate Entrepreneur Organization’s Business Plan Competition while a student at UW-Whitewater.
“It was the people of CEO and the [College of Business and Economics] that really helped,” Sailsbery said when discussing how he realized the potential of first endeavor as an entrepreneur. “I did No More Dorms as a couple of class projects. So, even my classmates gave me feedback and that was huge in figuring out how to make things work.”
With his experience as an entrepreneur and knowledge of the failure rates of restaurants, Sailsbery said he was hesitant to open his restaurant. To test the waters, he first rented space at what was formerly the Fuzzy Pig a few times per week and soon grew a loyal clientele.
“I missed being in a kitchen,” Sailsbery said. “I missed cooking. I wanted to see if Whitewater would be able support a restaurant like this.”
While interested diners are not always required to make reservations, Sailsbery said with the limited number of tables, reservations are always encouraged.
Reservations can be made by calling 262-458-4751.