The Riviera in downtown Lake Geneva is going a little bananas.
Kevin Singh and Joseph Hatten have opened a new frozen banana vending business in the Riviera tourism center, in a storefront previously occupied by Ba-Ba’s Lakefront Grill.
Going Bananas features frozen bananas dipped in chocolate and then covered with a selection of toppings.
Customers can choose from a half or full banana, dipped in milk chocolate or while chocolate, and drizzled with milk chocolate, caramel, dark chocolate or white chocolate. Finally, toppings include cereal crumbles, chopped candy bars, cookies, peanuts or chocolate chips.
“We know that dipped bananas were popular back in the day,” Hatten said. “So, we put a little twist on it and added all the neat toppings and stuff to it.”
A grand opening celebration was scheduled for Sept. 5.
Going Bananas will be open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily through Nov. 1.
The business partners plan to return next May when the Riviera re-opens for another summer tourist season, with its ground-level variety of vendors selling snacks, gifts and other novelties.
Singh said he and Hatten, both of whom live in Lake Geneva, wanted to offer something different, so they decided on the chocolate-dipped frozen bananas.
“There’s a lot of great shops in Lake Geneva that sell ice cream,” Singh said. “So we wanted to offer alternatives. We felt people didn’t always want to eat ice cream.”
Going Bananas also sells soda, coffee and bottled water.
Next year, the operators plan to offer cheesecake and other types of fruit.
“We will start with the basics,” Singh said. “Next year, we will have a full-on menu.”
Singh said he has been wanted to open a business since moving to Lake Geneva two years ago.
He considered other downtown locations before city officials told him about the available space in the city-owned Riviera, located at 812 Wrigley Drive, alongside Riviera Beach.
“We couldn’t pass up the opportunity,” Singh said.
Lake Geneva Mayor Charlene Klein said she is excited to have a new business opening in the Riviera.
“It is always a pleasure to welcome new business in town,” Klein said. “I wish them the best of luck.”
Hatten and Singh signed a lease with the city about two months ago, and have been renovating their new space to prepare for the opening of Going Bananas.
City harbormaster Linda Frame, who oversees the Riviera, the owners of Ba-Ba’s Lakefront Grill decided to vacate their space last fall, because they were commuting back and forth from Illinois, and they wanted more time with their children.
Frame said other prospects considered the vacant space, but none of them panned out.
Frame said she welcomes Going Bananas to the Riviera.
“I think it’s a great addition,” she said. “It’s refreshing. It’s something different. They’re enthusiastic about what they’re doing.”
She added: “I think the public is going to like these guys.”
Singh said he is excited to be opening a business in the Riviera at a time when the city is planning renovations and improvements to the historic lakefront structure.
City officials recently moved toward a renovation plan that would allow the ground-level vendors to remain.
“It’s a great building,” Singh said. “It just needs a little updating.”
During the winter months, Going Bananas will offer dipped banana treats as a catering business for birthday parties, corporate events and holiday parties.
Hatten said this is the first business he has ever operated. He said he has worked as a manager for several national retail businesses during the past 15 years.
He said he is happy with the response he has received already with Going Bananas.
“All of the reaction has been really positive,” he said. “People are definitely excited.”
Singh said he has been part-owner of a limousine rental business in Wheeling, Illinois, during the past 15 years. But he said that business has been hurt by the coronavirus pandemic.
“People are not traveling to the airport or going to meetings or out to eat,” he said. “I had to find an alternative, and do something different.”
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