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Carla Minsky

LAKE GENEVA, Wis. (January 21, 2016)

A lodge or resort has stood on the very spot where The Geneva Inn in Lake Geneva, Wis. (www.GenevaInn.com) sits today, dating all the way back to 1883. And while The Geneva Inn is young by that timeline, having been built in 1990, the history still runs deep. Which is why, when it came time to undertake a full renovation of the inn’s restaurant, the management team chose to focus on the sense of place first, the way the inn hugs the shoreline of Geneva Lake, and the easy-going lake culture that has attracted Chicagoans and other Midwest vacationers for generations. IDM Hospitality Management (www.IDMHospitality.com), based in Madison, Wis., is heading up the renovation that calls for opening up even more views to the lake while also transforming the menu to give it a modern steakhouse feel. The project is expected to last four months, with the restaurant and a separate open-air dining patio set to reopen in late May, just in time for peak tourism season in this resort community.

IDM is calling on its experience in developing and managing one-of-a-kind boutique hotels and destination restaurants around the Midwest, the bread and butter of the firm’s growing portfolio, in mapping out every detail of the renovation. To round out the team, IDM brought on Madison-based Tri-North for construction services, and Architectural Design Consultants, Inc. of Lake Delton, Wis. for interior design.

According to Sean Skellie, a vice president with IDM, the redesigned restaurant will feature unique seating areas allowing for even more unobstructed views of the lake. “There is no underestimating the importance of that body of water to the residents and visitors, so sharing the beauty with diners became the starting point for everything,” explained Skellie. The layout calls for seating for 160, with a private dining area and flexible banquet space also included in the existing footprint.

As for the menu, it will showcase fresh seafood and steaks, prepared and presented simply yet elegantly, with an extensive wine cellar to complement the cuisine. Skellie describes it as “fine dining but not fussy dining” and “with a relaxed style of service inspired by the idyllic setting.” He also noted that “Lake Geneva is a wine connoisseur’s market,” and that great care is being taken in wine selections with an eye toward making food and wine dinners at the restaurant a must-experience.

An entirely different menu is being planned for the patio. “It will have a ‘burgers and shakes’ emphasis, the kind of menu everyone knows and loves, making it a classic stop for the boating crowd,” said Skellie. “Plus it will be a great spot to take in a fireside sunset,” said Skellie.

The Geneva Inn has 37 guestrooms and fine amenities including turndown service, spa-style robes, large flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, and an on-site fitness room. Boat slip rentals are also available. Along with being a favorite among family vacationers, it is also a popular spot for weddings and meetings. The property has been owned by the same family for 25 years.

Insights from the Team

Chad Ferguson, vice president of business development at construction firm Tri-North, made note of the challenging fast-track schedule required to get the restaurant open for peak tourism season in Wisconsin. “We have a strong track record when it comes to aggressive schedules plus we’ve completed about 100 restaurants nationwide, so we know how to tackle this,” said Ferguson.

Sue Wilsie-Govier, partner at Architectural Design Consultants, Inc. (ADCI) and interior design lead on the project, said the space will have a “soft sophistication reflecting the culture of the resort community,” with a soothing color palette, stain tints that are light and airy, and a few understated nods to nautical. “We’ll be blending the restaurant with the existing traditional building by using on-trend influences to make it relevant for how people vacation today,” offered Wilsie-Govier.