Chris Mangless in the kitchen of his Green Bay supper club Three Three Five | Photo: Courtesy of Chris Mangless
“Music has aways been a passion of mine,” says Three Three Five’s chef-owner Chris Mangless '05, who opened his 12,000-square-foot “dining studio” in Green Bay, Wis., in 2011.
So it made sense to bring food and music together once he custom-built the multipurpose two-story space, which easily morphs from tasting room to salon, restaurant to concert hall — and back again.
Dinner-concerts at Three Three Five have become hot tickets, featuring acts as diverse as Grammy® winner Norah Jones, the Lumineers’ Stelth Ulvang, Seattle folkies The Head & The Heart and alt-country songstress Brandi Carlile.
Concerts work like this: “We serve dinner at every show, and we always feed the band,” says Mangless. “Ticket sales go to the artist, and the money from dinner goes to us. At first it was a hard sell but now [bands] just trust in what we’re doing.”
The first concert was an acoustic set by Nashville singer-songwriter Cory Chisel. “We totally packed the place. It was one of the favorite shows he’d ever played.” Since then, finding bands to play has been “100% word-of-mouth — it’s crazy how small the music world is, just like the chef world!”
Opening a business in his hometown wasn’t part of Mangless’ original plan. After graduating from JWU’s Denver Campus, he figured he’d stay in Green Bay just long enough to save up some money. When his catering and event business, The Traveling Chef, started gaining momentum, Mangless began to think seriously about finding a working studio able to accommodate private dinners and receptions.
We serve dinner at every show, and we always feed the band.” -CHRIS MANGLESS
After a year and a half of looking at duds — “there’s not a lot of original architecture left” — he stumbled across the 335 Broadway building in what real-estate developers colloquially call an “up-and-coming” neighborhood.
The price was right, and the frugal Mangless remodeled the century-old building himself, with help from friends and family. “The first floor had been a grocery store. The space had the original wood floors, the original tin ceiling, exposed brick — stuff you can’t easily replicate.
Mangless installed an open kitchen to keep the space airy, but also to make the cooking, plating and serving part of the show. “When we’re open for a concert, the seat right by the kitchen is one of the most coveted,” he notes. “Of course a bad night in the kitchen is as much of a show as a good night!”
Although Mangless spends much of his time traveling to catering gigs, he tries to reserve Wednesday nights at Three Three Five for what he calls “Open Market Dinners,” which are open to the public and showcase farmfresh produce, cheeses, fish and meats. (He estimates that roughly 80–90% of any given menu is local — often improvised from his daily visits with farmer-suppliers.)
As a chef, Mangless favors shareable small plates, thereby maximizing guests’ ability to “try lots of different flavors and textures.” Diners are seated family-style, to more easily share in the endless platters of oysters, cheese and charcuterie, as well as vegan/gluten-free options like carrot-ginger soup with roasted coconut chips.
When we’re open for a concert, the seat right by the kitchen is the most coveted. Of course a bad night in the kitchen is as much of a show as a good night!”
In addition to running Three Three Five and catering events as The Traveling Chef, Mangless makes and sells JacB, his own line of caramels. He also experiments with winemaking and collects wines for Three Three Five’s extensive cellar of more than 3,000 bottles.
What’s next? Widow Jones, a craft cocktail bar. “It’s a collaboration with artisanal bitters company Bittercube,” he says. “It will be ‘over the river’ in downtown Green Bay.” He hopes to open this fall.
Follow Three Three Five + Chef Mangless on Twitter.
This article originally appeared in the Spring 2015 JWU Magazine. Read the entire issue here.