The Red Circle Inn in Nashotah was sold to Geronimo Hospitality Group

The Red Circle Inn in Nashotah has been sold and the dining room will remain closed for six to eight weeks.

After three decades of owning the restaurant, the restaurant’s most recent owners, Norm and Martha Eckstaedt, decided to sell the Wisconsin restaurant, which had existed since 1847, making it one of the oldest restaurants in the state.

Past owners include brewer Frederick Pabst and Aat Groenevelt, the owner and founder of Provimi Veal. The restaurant’s original Pabst Bar was built in 1889.

A few months ago, the Eckstaedts approached Beloit’s Geronimo Hospitality Group about the potential sale, and the restaurant group jumped at the opportunity.

“Martha and I have been very blessed to be the caretakers of the inn for the past 29 years,” Norm said in a press release. We both look forward to the next exciting chapter that Geronimo Hospitality will write. One that embraces history while providing an excellent product with the gracious hospitality of Lake Country.”

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Jeff Whiteman, Geronimo’s chief operating officer, said the restaurant’s history and ability to preserve what won the group over for only the fifth caretaker to be taken on in the last century.

“As we looked at it, we saw how we could do our part to honor history, and from that vantage point we knew this was the perfect place for us,” Whiteman told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “This place is so rich in history and important not only to Lake Country but to the entire state of Wisconsin as one of the oldest functioning institutions.”

The new owner has already started, and it’s beginning a refresh of the dining room, which will be closed for at least the next six to eight weeks, Whiteman said.

There are plans to restore and update parts of the restaurant, both inside and out, as well as furniture and decor, including using and preserving old photographs hanging on the walls as a guide to restoring and refreshing the space.

While the dining room is closed, the banquet room will remain open for the previously scheduled events. Geronimo plans to continue operating as a venue.

“We want to carry that original feel of the place into the future and hold on to that history,” Whiteman said. “We want to create an environment that does justice to today’s guests. We’re pretty excited about the direction and as of today (September 21st) already have a crew working on it. As long as the supply chain cooperates, we should be reopening soon.”

In addition to maintaining the aesthetic around the history of the place, Geronimo also plans for its menu to reflect both current and historical Red Circle Inn menus.

“A lot of people say, ‘What the hell do we do with this, for this and with this?'” Whiteman said. “We will pay respect to the place. We have records of all types of menus over the decades, and we plan to expand our menus with different things that have been on the menu over the decades and mix them up with those of a Wisconsin supper club. We want our menu to appeal to people who have been coming there for decades and maybe some who don’t yet know it exists.”

This isn’t the first restaurant or historic property Geronimo has purchased and renovated in Lake Country. In 2016, the group acquired the Delafield Hotel, leading to the opening of Id, Blue Collar Coffee and be Fitness in the city. They also own properties in Beloit, Indianapolis and Boise, Idaho.

“We’re just super excited to be the new caretakers of this property,” Whiteman said. “We’re planning a long run, as is Norm and Martha, and we’re looking forward to the future.”

Drew Dawson can be reached at [email protected] or 262-289-1324.

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