Braun would love to live in Lake Geneva
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June 30, 2010 | 08:45 AMLast Thursday night, people of all ages patiently gathered on the sidewalk at 430 Broad St. Some had been waiting there for hours. Others had donned baseball jerseys or held bats, pennants and baseballs in their hands.
Every single person was gazing down Broad Street anticipating the arrival of Milwaukee Brewers all-star left fielder Ryan Braun, who was expected to appear at his newly-renovated restaurant located in the former Cactus Club.
At about 7:40 p.m., the baseball star and restaurateur appeared and he didn't let anyone down. Braun, who played in a Brewers victory earlier in the afternoon, signed autographs and posed for pictures in the parking lot behind the facility before making his way to the front entrance of his Tavern and Grill. Once inside, the crowd mobbed Braun, who was all smiles as he chatted, signed autographs and posed for more pictures.
"I am surely impressed," Braun said during an interview later in the evening. "It is an overwhelming turnout. I wasn't expecting that."
Braun said the opening was much different than the one he had for his Waterfront restaurant in Milwaukee.
"When we opened there, we did a private opening," he said. "It was a lot smaller and low key than that time. But, this has been a lot of fun and really cool."
It was the first time Braun had seen his restaurant since he was in Lake Geneva in mid-May. At that time, he was checking on the status of the work and renovations were not yet complete.
"I just love it," he said of his restaurant. "I think the place is just beautiful and the support has been great. There are far more people here than I ever expected."
His restaurant isn't the only reason why he plans to visit Lake Geneva as much as he can.
"I kind of fell in love with the area and it really feels like summer when I'm here," Braun said about Lake Geneva. "When you're playing baseball every day, it doesn't seem like summer. But, the lake is beautiful, the houses on the lake are incredible and everyone always seems to be in a good mood. There's a lot of positive energy here, so I've always enjoyed coming here."
Braun first discovered Lake Geneva when he visited the area on his off days starting two years ago.
He and former Brewers shortstop J.J. Hardy "hung out" on the lake quite often, Braun said.
"We came up on our off days all the time," he said. "I didn't get a chance to meet a lot of people that were from the area, but now, just to meet the people from here, everyone just seems so awesome."
Braun and Hardy fished and spent time on the lake during their time off.
"It's just relaxing, rejuvenating and a nice escape from baseball," he said. "We used to hang out on the lake, fish, tube a little bit. We were pretty low key."
There's no doubt Braun will continue to spend as much time in Lake Geneva as he can.
"Hopefully I can make it out here once a homestand or every other homestand," he said.
Braun said he hasn't thought much about buying a home in Lake Geneva, but he has a dream.
"I wish I could live here," he said. "If I could deal with the commute every day. I think the drive is too far for me. But, I love the area and after meeting the people here, this is incredible. This is a great place to live, great place to vacation and a great place to spend the summer."
Eventually, Braun moved through the crowd and made his way into his small private room at the restaurant. But, it wasn't long before he was making his way around the restaurant thanking people at several tables for their patronage.
Finally, Braun, his agent and others who were with him, sat down for dinner in the private room. It was about 10 p.m.