Day #6: Trempealeau Food, Fountain City Brew and Good Company

GlenDi_CartoonI don’t know if you’ve noticed but cartoon Glen and Di are getting more and more robust with each post I write. That’s what happens when you spend a week feasting on Wisconsin’s savory fare and specialty brew.

No calories there whatsoever.

As we navigate our way up the Great River Road, each Mississippi town has been as quaint as the next and we’ve met some super nice people. Trempealeau and Fountain City are especially distinct.

Trempealeau

Sunset over Mississippi River in Trempealeau, WI

Trempealeau Hotel and Restaurant, Tremealeau, WI

Hands down, our best meal has been dinner at the historic Trempealeau Hotel and Restaurant, overlooking the river and this beautiful sunset. Besides serving Spaten, my husband’s favorite Oktoberfest beer (which we won’t discuss because it’s a German import), the restaurant has an obvious appreciation of its vintage atmosphere and local farmers. My husband had the walleye with a heavenly kale-bacon-whatever sauté. I had a shrimp skewer drenched in butter and lightly crusted with a blend of herbs.

Getting hungry? I am, just reminiscing.

To work this off, the next day we hiked through Perrot State Park, another beautiful area with killer-bluffs overlooking the river. Actually, hiking the bluffs isn’t that hard, but be mindful that this week real Glen and Di are not a tight stretch from cartoon Glen and Di. At the top of one bluff, we met a lovely family with young boys whose infectious enthusiasm for nature reminded us of how blessed we all really are.

Fountain City

Monarch Public House, Fountain City, WI

Further up the Mississippi we lunched at the Monarch Public House, a food and drink destination since 1894. We had fish because it was Friday and in Wisconsin you have fish on Fridays, even if the Monarch calls it fish ‘n chips, which it does because it’s Irish. It’s just what we do (along with run-on sentences).

Our server explained their heritage style of baking the fish at 600+ degrees instead of deep frying. It was delicious!

vintage bar in Monarch Public House, Fountain City, WI

Isn’t this bar stunning? Our server said it’s original to the building. The pressed tin ceiling is also original and easily 16-feet high, if not more. The Monarch’s website shares an interesting history of the building—be sure to scroll all the way down.

Fountain Brew, Fountain City, WI

In addition to being the longest running tavern in Wisconsin, the Monarch has also resurrected Fountain City Brewing Company. Long part of the community’s heritage, this brewery originated in 1862. When it closed in 1965 and the building later demolished, it seemed the local flavor would be lost forever.

That is, until 1997.

By then John Harrington owned the Monarch tavern and was guiding it through a loving restoration. One day a nearly 90-year-old, retired assistant brewmaster named Wilbert Schmitt came forward with the original recipes he had saved all these years. Harrington and Schmitty, as he’s known, collaborated and reintroduced Fountain City’s beloved brew.

Fascinating story, eh? The Monarch tells it in greater detail here. Again, be sure to scroll completely down the page.

Next year, according to our server, the Monarch will break ground for a brewery building right next to the tavern. Bucket list: Go back to Fountain City in two years and check it out!

Gasoline Alley, Fountain City, WI

Octoberfest_2014_FC_CarWhile wandering Main Street, we met John Campbell of Gasoline Alley. One compliment on his car parked outside and he proudly brought us inside to see his latest work.

I like his business logo!

Seven Hawks Vineyard, Fountain City, WI

John shared fun stories of Fountain City. He also pointed out how the buildings on the town’s main streets are all veered to match the angle of the river. None of them were built square to the street. Intriguing!

RatingsAdunate rates Fountain City Brewery, Fountain City, WI

Beer
Fountain City doesn’t brew an Oktoberfest but we enjoyed their signature styles nonetheless. My husband had an Irish Valley Spring Bock and I went all historical with the original recipe Fountain Brew. Both were great!

Ambiance
Need I say more? I loved this building and its meticulous restoration.

Food
My husband had fish ‘n chips. I had a Caesar salad. We shared and were extremely happy travelers!

Community
An endearing little river town, where life seems slow and peaceful. With this list of things to do, we could have stayed longer than the one afternoon we did. Next time!

Copy & Design
The Monarch has a great story to tell and does so very well on it’s website. It’s Facebook page shares the same enthusiasm and friendliness our server did. I’m looking forward to the promotions in puts out when they build the brewery.

Our next, and final, stop: Reads Landing Brewing Company, Reads Landing, Minnesota

 

Day #2: No Grumps Here!

Autumn leaves 2014

When your husband is owner of the greatest team in the NFL, you don’t spend Sunday afternoons driving around looking at scenery.

Well, he’s part owner.

Okay, well, he’s a shareholder, one of an intimate 363,491 fellow shareholders.

Still, it’s very important that my husband watch the games. So Sunday, after attending the friendly and welcoming Faith Lutheran Church in Reedsburg and checking out the Shoe Box in Black Earth, we headed on down to Mount Horeb to watch the Green Bay Packers.

Mount Horeb, population 7000, is a quaint little town. Hey, it’s the troll capital of the world! It’s also home to the Fisher King Winery, a delicious Main Street presence, and the Duluth Trading Company, a flagship in a wonderful, creaky-floored mercantile building.

But most important to my husband on Sunday at noon, Mount Horeb is home to the Grumpy Troll Brew Pub.

Grumpy Troll Brew Pub

Grumpy Troll Brew Pub, Mount Horeb, Wisconsin

What a fun place! Located in the 1916 Mount Horeb Creamery building, it’s been a restaurant and brewery since 1996. There’s a family restaurant on the first floor and a pizzeria on the second, along with the very important large screen TVs in every which direction.

Mural in Grumpy Troll's Pizzeria

Is this a young and thin Martin Luther? Just wondering, you know, with Reformation coming up and all. This mural is on the wall of Grumpy Troll’s upstairs pizzeria.

Anyway, our daughter and son-in-law joined us and we enjoyed sharing good food and beer. Best of all, the Packers won 27-24 in a last minute drive. Based on the loud whoops, there were no grumpy trolls watching this game!

Ratings

Adunate rates the Grumpy Troll Brewpub in Mount Horeb, WIBeer
I feel bad awarding brewmaster Mark Knoebl only one stein, especially since he’s won so many awards elsewhere. He features up to twelve beers on tap, of all tastes and styles. Refreshingly, his beer menu changes regularly and as it happened Sunday an Oktoberfest wasn’t on the list. Oh well, there were many others to try. Our son-in-law, a hobbyist brewer himself, and daughter both appreciate a hoppier flavor and their eyes lit up when they tasted the Hoppa Loppa.

Ambiance
Of course I loved the old building. It’s wonderfully preserved and furnished with appropriate decor. The staff was super friendly and it was a fun place to watch the game.

Food: Great!

Community
With lots of interesting shops, one could spend a fun day in downtown Mount Horeb. The area also boasts a bike trail, parks and many other attractions. Sadly, one of its greatest historical sites, Little Norway, is closing after 86 years.

Copy and Design
I love it! The Grumpy Troll has a super website with fun information about its history, the building, its food and beer. Be sure to keep scrolling down while on the home page so you don’t miss any of this good stuff. And who wouldn’t like a logo with a cute grumpy troll guy?!

Next stop: New Glarus Brewing Company

It’s Back to School Time!

Back-to-School Special at Donny's Girl Restaurant

Last week my Facebook feed was brimming with everyone’s first-day-of-school pictures. What fun! This week I’m sharing a couple of my own. No, they’re not of my kiddos (although embarrassing them with old pics could certainly be fun:-), instead they’re of school-related projects I recently added to my portfolio.

Donny’s Girl Supper Club offers southeastern Wisconsin a most welcoming and delightful place to dine. This summer owners Lorn and Jaci had a minor setback when their building caught on fire. Thankfully, the damage was minimal and within weeks they were back to serving delicious meals to their beloved guests. This month Jaci is running a back-to-school special—that’s her daughter in the coupon (I like to call it the Brielle Special because she’s just so doggone cute). Check out the website I did for Donny’s Girl and then meander your way to Watertown for their back-to-school special.

Don’t forget your coupon!

Wisconsin Lutheran State Teachers' Conference in Milwaukee, WI

Education these days often gets a bum rap, but really, here in America we are truly blessed. We’ve got public schools, charter schools, parochial schools, home schools, Eschools…you name it, we’ve got it. If you really want to learn, here in America you can learn.

This same diverse opportunity came through in the registration program I recently did for the Wisconsin Lutheran State Teachers’ Conference (WLSTC). With over 1500 teachers from five states attending, you can bet this conference represents a variety of WELS Lutheran schools. This year we used photography submitted by WLSTC-members and featured everything from an inner-city school participating in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, to a rural school of only 53 students. If you want a quality, Christ-centered education, schools in the WLSTC will do just that.

So, folks, enjoy the back-to-school season! Just keep right on learning!

 

Responsive Web, Inverted Pyramids and Door County, Wisconsin

Cave Point, Door County, Wisconsin

If there’s anything that reinforces the need for good web design, it’s a 4-day weekend in the boondocks. Think about it: If you’ve got the who, what, where, when and why right in front of you, you’re pretty much good to go no matter where you happen to be.

Like Door County, Wisconsin. In February.

Door County is an almost 500-square-mile jut of land between the Green Bay and Lake Michigan. My husband and I were there last weekend for our anniversary. We love going at this time of year because it’s the quiet season. We can snowshoe in the many parks, find miles and miles of diverse shoreline and visit cozy, lakeside villages, all free of the crowds that make them a hot spot in summer.

That’s Cave Point in the picture. Isn’t it stunning? Often, the crashing Lake Michigan waves cover the rocks with sprays of water. This day everything—I mean, everything— was so very still. With temperatures well below zero, the water was a frigid wonder of clarity.

But Door County Wi-Fi? Understandably, not so clear.

Even though Door County is  more commercially developed than it was decades ago (sadly so, in my opinion), it’s still rather remote, especially when it comes to the internet. As we randomly zig-zagged the peninsula on country backroads, I perused my iPhone in search of the next cool place to stop. One minute there was reception, the next there wasn’t. Knowing it could give out at any time, I really appreciated a well-designed website.

I appreciated responsive websites even more.

Nowadays, a responsive website is a necessity for good business. Responsive web design is like the inverted pyramid of the old journalism days; it puts the most important information up front for optimal viewing no matter what device is being used.

Here are three sites I found helpful while in Door County. Two are simply well-designed and put the necessary information where it needs to be. The third is a fully responsive site that properly rearranges itself according to the order of importance and size of the device.

Wild Tomato Pizza, Fish Creek, WI

Here’s the Wild Tomato Restaurant and how it appears on my iPhone. Mmmm, this looks good, doesn’t it?

Many Door County businesses are closed for the winter. Yet when I googled “Door County pizza,” I found right here on Wild Tomato’s home page that they are open, where they’re located and their phone number. The fact that they link to a beer menu tells me they have artisan beers even if I don’t take the time to click into it.

Good business? You bet. The restaurant was super fun and the food was delicious!

St. John Lutheran Church, Door County, WI

Most churches don’t think of themselves as a business. Yet sometimes they need to act like one; for example, when they want to reach out to the tourists of their unique vacation community.

St. John does just that with its website. Right there on the home page I found the 5 W’s needed for knowing about the congregation and how we could attend its services. And yes, the members of this beautiful church in the country were as warm and welcoming as their website!

Door County, WIsconsin

So here’s the fully responsive site: The Door County Visitor Bureau. Check it out on your computer, then check it out on your iPod or smartphone. Notice how it’s packed full of interesting information and rather than proportionately shrinking it en masse for small devices, which would make it way too small to read, its responsiveness vertically rearranges the contents into segments in order of their importance.

That, my dears, is responsive web design and that’s what brings people to Door County, even in the dead of winter!


What about your website? How does it look on a smartphone? Can viewers clearly find what they need to know? Here’s a completely responsive website Adunate did for a Donny’s Girl Supper Club. Contact me if you’d like the same exposure for your business.


 

10 Ways Restaurants Are Using Social Media

Restaurants using Social Media Infographic
How’s this for a great infographic? It’s put out by the makers of Digital Dining, an integrated management system that helps food industries better serve the people they feed.

Finding this graphic was timely because I’m currently working on a website for Donny’s Girl Supper Club. Recently, I asked owner Jaci Mueller how her restaurant has changed since she was a girl and her parents, Donny and Sue, owned it. Jaci is proud to offer the same service and quality her parents worked so hard to achieve for 22 years. Yet there is one thing she does quite differently—advertising. As in social media advertising.

Jaci’s a savvy marketer, particularly on Facebook. She’s regularly tantalizing us with pictures of her daily dinner specials or reminding us it’s Friday and we need to drive out to the country for a good ol’ Wisconsin, family-style fish fry. She even uses Facebook to advertise her job opportunities.

Jaci and I discussed ways to further develop her Facebook and how to incorporate the awesome photos her niece Mariah shot for our website. We also brainstormed ways to encourage greater conversation amongst her Facebook fans (which already is quite active, by the way).

How about some of these ideas?

    • “It’s our bartender’s birthday! C’mon out and wish him a happy day!” (Jaci’s clientele is a close-knit family, she could also do this for customers—given the right person:-)

 

    • “Thirty-two years ago today, my parents bought the restaurant. Remember those early days?”

 

    • “The weather’s steamy now, but snowmobile days will come soon enough!” (Jaci says she has a fun photo of customers’ snowmobile helmets filling her hat rack).

 

  • “State health inspector made a surprise visit. As always, we passed with flying colors!”

All of these work to create a feeling of family for Jaci’s Facebook fans. They enable a sense of belonging, which is something we all crave. They even give us a sense of ownership, if you will, because we learn to know Donny’s Girl Supper Club in a more personal way. Most importantly to Jaci, they motivate us to come to her restaurant.

By the way, today is Friday! Are you coming? Donny’s Girl offers the best fish fry in Wisconsin!

Donny's Girl Supper Club website homepage


Need help developing your social media marketing? Need a new website or blog design? Let’s talk!