Gary and Mary Sue Ruschmeyer, who already own the Bear Bar Lodge and Restaurant in Winchester, have reached an agreement to operate the former iconic Bosacki’s Boat House and most recently Matt Morgan’s on Lake Minocqua.
The Ruschmeyers, who will serve as managing partners, said they’re also pleased to announce that Bill Fricke, who the couple has worked with in the past and who also owns the Hazelhurst Pub, will serve as The Boathouse’s bar manager.
“We’ve had a great deal of success with the Bear Bar and Lodge and with other businesses we’ve owned in the past. Between the three of us we have almost 100 years of restaurant experience,” Gary Ruschmeyer said. “It’s been our lifelong dream to own a waterfront property and this is a very unique one.
“The name we’ve chosen reflects the history here,” Ruschmeyer said.
Ruschmeyer said Fricke, while serving as bar manager, will be heavily involved in the operations of the business.
“If the project did not deal with this location I probably wouldn’t have agreed to be involved,” Fricke said.
The Ruschmeyers will continue to manage and operate the Bear Bar and Lodge, but said they will soon purchase a residence in Minocqua so they can be much closer to The Boathouse.
“The marine aspect, being able to have people drive their boat right up to the building here and then come in for food or a drink is really an exiting part of this location,” Ruschmeyer said. “There’s a lot of potential here. At this location we can have boating and water skiing in the summer and in the winter we can have snowmobilers come right up to the building so the operation can run during the entire year,” Ruschmeyer said.
According to Mary Sue, the business will have a nautical decor and will play on the long history the former Bosacki’s Boat House.
“We’re very excited,” Ruschmeyer said. “If it wasn’t this property we would have passed. This is the only other project we would have been willing to tackle here in the Northwoods.”
The couple said The Boathouse will be a hands-on operation.
“We’re going to have entertainment here nearly every night, but for sure on the weekends,” Ruschmeyer said. “I and Don Penfield will be playing the piano here.”
The three say they will operate the business with “a lot of tradition” and will bring back some of the special and traditional foods that were served when the business was owned by the Bosackis.
“We’re going to have a very broad, but traditional menu,” Gary said. We’ll, of course, have the traditional Friday night fish fry, prime rib on Saturdays and we’ll have a children’s menu. We’re also going to talk to Larry Stenz who was a longtime chef here for the Bosackis and use some of the old recipes that they were famous for back then.”
The Boathouse will also offer a wide selection of liquors and fine wines.
The Ruschmeyers said the business will offer a casual dining experience so someone coming off the lake in flip-flops can dine with their family and friends and be able to order a burger or sandwich or a fine steak.
“We’re also going to bring many local friends on board as staff,” Ruschmeyer said.
The Ruschmeyers said they want to be heavily involved in the community and that will be a big part of the business’s method of operation. That shouldn’t prove difficult to the trio because they all have ties to the area in addition to their other businesses.
Sue, whose parents moved to the area in the 1950s and 60s, is a graduate of Lakeland Union High School.
Gary is a native of Ironwood, Mich., but grew up on the Manitowish Chain of Lakes and was involved with the Manitowish Ski Club, the Skiing Skeeters and entertained at the Caribou Lodge at Big Powderhorn and Ed Gabe’s with his band, Trilogy, for many years.
The couple owned and operated the Highland Club in Manitowish successfully for 24 years.
Fricke was also born and raised in the Lakeland area.
Hospitality is the key
According to Gary, hospitality and serving the customer to the highest level, are keys to a successful business.
“We’ve learned that through our many years of operating our other successful businesses,” Ruschmeyer said. “There’s an old saying everyone should be kissed once when they enter and kissed three times when they leave. If people weren’t happy about their experience at your business then you’ve failed. Hospitality is the key.”
The Ruschmeyers wanted to emphasize the business will have a family atmosphere and customers will feel comfortable in the casual dining experience at The Boathouse.
“We hope to be able to open the bar up fairly soon after we do some decorating, cleaning and make a few changes,” Gary said. “We’re then hoping that we can begin serving food no later than in early May.”
The Boathouse will replace Matt Morgan’s which closed its doors earlier this month. The property is owned by Northwoods Equity Investments LLC of Marshfield.
“We’re going to be open to input from our customers,” Gary said. “A business like this is constantly evolving and changing in order to offer what the customers want.
Joe VanDeLaarschot may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.