The Next Generations
Five Points restaurant to stay in Waukesha, plans expansion into River Mill space

By Sarah Pryor - Freeman Staff

June 20, 2014

 Jeff Oberholtzer stands in Generations at 5 Points. The restaurant will be expanding into the space River Mill Foods currently occupies. River Mill Foods will be moving to Elm Grove.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

WAUKESHA — Jeff Oberholtzer’s restaurant is at a crossroads, both literally (it’s next to the Five Points intersection downtown) and figuratively (it’s been around for six years and has hit a plateau in its current space). “This place has been going great for six years, and after six years we realized it was either time to relocate or expand. Either close or put in some more money and invest in business rather than change,” said Oberholtzer, who has owned Generations at 5 Points since 2008.

Even though Oberholtzer has enjoyed success downtown, staying in Waukesha definitely wasn’t a given.

“We were approached by three different cities. People would come in and say ‘we’ve got a great spot,’ and being a good business, we looked into every lead,” Oberholtzer said. “But we like our space, we like the people and we like our customer base we’ve built here. We have great relationships with other businesses. We have ties here.”
Not only is he staying, Oberholtzer is capitalizing on next-door neighbor River Mill Foods’ impending relocation to Elm Grove. He plans to expand Gen 5 into the space next door, extending the bar toward the front of the restaurant’s current space and cutting a large hole in the wall to give way to an open kitchen and additional seating.

 Generations at 5 Points and River Mill Foods.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

“We’re going to refocus — not completely, but changing with the times for food and trends. Tapas have been great and we’ll stick with some tapas, but we’ll also offer other options similar to upscale pub food,” Oberholtzer said, adding that he also hopes to expand the restaurant’s beer list and include a rotating craft beer on tap. He also said he plans to offer live music on some evenings.

As for River Mill, the soup, sandwich and cheesecake restaurant’s last day in business will be June 28, said manager Brandon Bennett.

Owner Laurie Runyan said the restaurant, which has been in downtown Waukesha for about three years, will be reincarnated in the Village Court area of Elm Grove as more of a coffee shop-style cafe featuring more seating, both indoors and out.

“I was approached by a building manager in Elm Grove who had heard about us and said he had a bigger spot,” Runyan said, citing lack of parking and seating space as her main issues with her Waukesha location.

She said she appreciates her customers’ support over the years, and Bennett said he hopes the Waukesha customers will follow the business to Elm Grove.

Catherine Huelsman, general manager of building owner Berg Management, said River Mill was an asset to downtown and she’s sad to see it go. She also said she had to negotiate long and hard with Oberholtzer to keep Gen 5 downtown.

“We are very, very happy they’re staying especially since we had competition from other places. They’re a great tenant and we hope they stay for a very long time,” Huelsman said. “I do think downtown Waukesha is up and coming, but we need to work on retaining businesses. I miss the Business Improvement District. I’m not sure how many more people can say that. That was the one thing the BID was able to do — be a neutral party for landlords and tenants, and try to keep people and bring new people in.”

Oberholtzer said he’s excited to continue Gen 5’s next chapter in Waukesha, and that the restaurant will likely close for about two weeks in late summer for construction related to the expansion.

“We’d hate to see all the work we put into making this place great go by the wayside,” Oberholtzer said. “We’re excited to move forward with the next step.”