A new supper club-inspired restaurant is coming to downtown Spring Green this summer, just as the repertory season kicks off at nearby American Players Theatre.
The century-old bank building at 134 W. Jefferson St. has been several restaurants since 2008: The Bank Restaurant and Wine Bar, Freddy Valentine’s (2012-2020) and Last Leaf Public House.
Now, the owners of Homecoming, an energetic, two-year-old restaurant in the historic White School, are taking over. They call the new restaurant Reunion, and they hope to have it open for business by June 15.
“We definitely want to put our own touches on the space,” said co-owner Leah Spicer, “to redefine it and make it feel different and make it feel ours. But we’re also motivated to capture as much sales as we possibly can going into the summer.”
That means updates, like brighter paint colors in the dining area, patio improvements and opening up the interior walls, will likely be slow. Reunion can seat 98 people inside, with about 20 more on a sidewalk patio.
Spicer and her partner, Kyle Beach, plan to close Homecoming temporarily for a couple of weeks in early June, or perhaps have a very limited menu there. They’ll move the whole team over to Reunion, to help that restaurant get up and running.
“We have been so lucky to have enough people who want to work for us,” Spicer said. “We have a good crop of people coming in who are back for the summer, APT people who want a second job, and a few people coming back from Last Leaf who worked for Dave (Owen, the previous owner), who want to keep working for us now that it’s opening up again.”
The hours are not yet set, but will be “more than Homecoming,” Spicer said, which is currently open Friday through Monday (Sunday is brunch only). At Reunion, Spicer imagines a Wednesday or Thursday through Saturday schedule, with flexibility informed by APT’s show schedule.
“We like to be open on Mondays for the actor crowd, and for regulars,” Spicer said.
Chef Chance Spivey will design the menu at Reunion. (Spivey and Christian Amador, chef at Homecoming, are set to demo charred vegetables and pizza at a Wednesday, June 21 Cooking with the Cap Times event.)
“It’ll be a lot like Homecoming,” Spicer said. “No pizza, but building on what we’re doing there. We might have a couple of pastas on the menu, and more seafood, more raw bar options. We may have a burger on the menu — that’s not fully decided yet.
“We do really try and look at what’s going on in bigger cities, what’s interesting to our chefs right now,” she added. “And we are so, so lucky that we have such incredible producers in our region.”
Spicer and Beach are excited to have a full bar at Reunion — at Homecoming, bartenders have to work out of a cooler. Spicer’s thinking about Reunion like a supper club, but not in a precise way. That can backfire, if Wisconsinites expect a relish tray or out-of-season twinkle lights.
“There is a lot of expectation when it comes to a supper club,” said Spicer, who grew up on a farm in rural Wisconsin and is well familiar with the traditions.
She doesn’t want to disappoint anyone. But she does want Reunion to have that Wisconsin vibe, with tables of families eating next to the bar.
“We have that feeling of a place where you can go with your family, where you might go for a special occasion,” Spicer said. “Where you know there’s delicious cocktails on the menu and you can get a really good steak.”
Ultimately, Reunion could pick up the torch for Homecoming. Spicer and Beach have a lease-to-own contract signed with the current owners of the bank building. Their landlord at the White School, which was never designed to be a restaurant, has been getting some insurance pressure, Spicer said, to pay more premiums or put in a sprinkler system.
“We don’t know if Homecoming is always going to be an option for us,” she said. “So it’s nice to have other irons in the fire.”