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Wednesday

April 2014

16

Around the Lakes changes ownership after 24 years

City of Oconomowoc - A longtime downtown restaurant is now operating under new ownership.

Around the Lakes Restaurant, 515 E. Wisconsin Ave., a popular Oconomowoc family eatery, was recently sold and reopened Jan. 25 after some initial refurbishing by the new proprietor.

"We did some painting and cleaning," said new owner Frank Suloja, who purchased the restaurant from the Islami family who owned the restaurant for approximately 24 years.

The new owner said after learning the restaurant was for sale, that it was actually the City of Oconomowoc itself that attracted him to it and helped to seal the business deal.

"It's a growing city and the economy looks good in Oconomowoc; the downtown looks good," he explained.

Suloja has an extensive background in the restaurant industry and currently owns and operates five restaurants in the Watertown, Jefferson and Lake Mills areas.

"For 17 years in Watertown I have had the Rose Garden Restaurant," he said.

Under the previous owners, the menu at Around the Lakes was varied, offering a wide assortment of selections; Suloja said he intends to offer a similar selection.

While a preliminary staff is in place, Suloja said they will be looking to hire additional employees to staff the restaurant, which will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week.

The new owner said that other planned upgrades to the site will be done in the near future, but can be accommodated while the business is operating.

Around the Lakes earned a spot in the annals city lore after it became the site of a raging fire in December 2000 in which no one was injured, but the building was destroyed.

The blaze started in the upstairs portion of the structure, gutting the entire building.

Firefighting efforts were hampered, complicated by subzero temperatures and more than 13 inches of snow that had recently blanketed the area.

Rebuilding efforts commenced soon after the incident and the Islami family continued to operate the popular business until the recent sale.

Suloja said the name of the eatery will remain the same.

"We're keeping the name; everyone knows Around the Lakes Restaurant," he said.

He invites longtime customers, and those new to the restaurant, to visit.

"We want people to come and try us and see our changes," Suloja added.

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