The former Sprecher’s Restaurant & Pub has new life now that it has re-opened as a new dining establishment.
Lake City Social, 111 Center St. in Lake Geneva, opened for business May 5. The restaurant— which is connected to the Cove of Lake Geneva— features similar items as the former Sprecher’s including sandwiches, burgers, steaks, seafood, chicken, soup and salads.
However, co-owner Stephen Schroeder said they have added some twists to several of the menu items. For example, the restaurant offers an appetizer called “social devils,” which are fried deviled eggs with seasoned filling, bleu cheese and bacon.
“We went with a little more edgy, trendy feel,” Schroeder said. “We took a lot of comfort classics and put our own twists on them. The food is a lot more vibrant and fresh and more eye appealing.”
Schroeder said instead of charbroiling the steak, burgers and seafood, those items are now cooked on a flattop grill.
“It sears in the flavors and juices and gives you a better outcome on the products,” Schroeder said. “There’s some learning curves that come with that with learning a whole method of cooking again.”
Lake City Social does not offer craft beer or sodas from Sprecher’s, but features 20 craft beers from other area breweries.
“The pandemic took a hit on everybody,” Schroeder said. “We’re trying to support a bunch of local businesses instead of just one strict brand.”
Besides offering quality food and drinks, Schroeder said they also plan to conduct fundraisers for local organizations.
“We’re trying to give back to the people who supported us and need support from the business community,” Schroeder said. “There’s a mass amount of charities and organizations that need our support. We’re looking at supporting a new charity once a month and doing some outreach that way.”
The restaurant currently employs 70 workers, but Schroeder said they plan to hire more staff for the summer tourism season.
“We’re still looking to hire another 15 to 20 people for the summer,” Schroeder said. “We will maintain those positions even during the fall and winter. We do have some college students who come back for the summer, then leave again.”
Schroeder said employees will be required to wear face masks for the time being to make sure customers are comfortable dining at the establishment.
“The perception of some of our guests right now is that it’s not fully safe,” Schroeder said. “We’re going to do our part to make people feel more comfortable for right now. We’re not making a decision lightly on taking masks off. It could be two weeks, it could be three months before we go completely maskless.”
The restaurant also offers an online ordering and curbside pick-up option for customers who still are not comfortable with dining indoors.
“It’s a whole other world. It’s not like running a business 10 years ago,” Schroeder said. “You have to get creative and figure out how you work with clients now. Not everybody is comfortable coming out.”
Schroeder and business partner, Sue Getgen, purchased the former Sprecher’s Restaurant & Pub in May 2020. He said they decided to rebrand the business because the restaurant’s contract with the Sprecher’s brewery was set to expire at the end of this May.
“There’s nothing against the brewery. They are a phenomenal company, they have phenomenal product,” Schroeder said. “It was more of a decision based on being able to come out underneath a regional and local brand and do our own thing and being able to support all of Wisconsin instead of just one specific place.”
Schroeder and Getgen temporarily closed the business in mid-April to remodel the restaurant into Lake City Social— repainting the building, reupholstering the booths, changing the color scheme, installing a new beer tap system and adding new artwork.
“We did not do any structural changes. It was a complete facelift,” Schroeder said. “All of the artwork that is in here right now are all live shots of Geneva Lake and the surrounding Geneva Lake area. We’re trying to bring some of those local concepts into play for the area, as well.”
Schroeder and Getgen also purchased the former Sprecher’s restaurant in the Wisconsin Dells. They are in the process of remodeling that restaurant and re-opening it as a second Lake City Social location in late May.
“It will have Tommy Bartlett decor and Ducks decor,” Schroeder said. “That’s how we’re trying to differentiate the two locations a little bit, basing them on those two communities.”
Schroeder said there are no plans to establish a third Lake City Social location at this time.
“We staggered the two locations for ease of opening and making sure we can pace ourselves and execute the product rather than trying to do multiple locations at one time,” he said.
Schroeder has managed several area restaurants, resorts and hotels throughout his career. He said he enjoys working in the restaurant industry and interacting with staff and customers.
“It’s a gratifying business when you can help people celebrate anniversaries, birthdays and weddings,” Schroeder said. ‘It’s a social business for me.”
Lake City Social is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday.
For more information about the restaurant, visit www.lakecitysocialwi.com.