With demolition of the existing interior underway, the partnership between chef Burton Joseph and brewer Brennan Greene will begin the build out in the next week or two with their sights set on late summer/early fall opening.
The Billy’s Lighthouse building has been vacant since 2006 and is in need of serious repair. "There’s a lot of things to work out," says Joseph, "but we should be in full construction in the first or second week of April." Keeping the structure in place, they are planned extensive remodeling, as well as reworking the parking and landscaping outside. "We want to keep the integrity of the outside of the building and enhance it with parking, landscaping, and lighting," he says. Joseph and Greene hope to have the new two-story space up and running in late summer or early fall, with time to spare before their first Oktoberfest.
The new space will borrow heavily from Birch’s existing restaurant, keeping popular menu items like their Buckhorn Chicken and Cracker-Crusted Walleye, with a division of themes between the two floors. The upper level will keep the supperclub tradition going, with an atmosphere Joseph describes as "a northern Wisconsin supperclub/Vegas lounge-y area," complete with a piano bar. "What better place for a supperclub than on a lake," he adds.
The new addition comes from veteran brewer Brennan Greene, who was raised in Orono and returns to the area after several years of brewing for Schlafly Beer in St. Louis, MO. The brewpub will take up the building’s lower level, featuring a full view of the brewhouse and a more industrial design. A more casual menu geared towards baskets, fries, fish tacos, and the like will be served on this floor. The beer will be served on both levels.
Greene’s line-up will be seasonal and in flux, keeping select styles on tap at all times, but with variations between batches He aims to provide Belgian beers, lighter offerings, coffee infusions, and sour beers on tap, along with other styles. As a brewpub, the beers will be available only at the restaurant and not in retail outlets or other bars.
Meanwhile, the existing Birch’s Restaurant in Long Lake will remain open.
--by Loren Green