Grill Junkies relocating to Delafield
Oconomowoc businesses prepare to hold their ground during construction

By Katherine Michalets - Freeman Staff

April 8, 2015

 Choo Ng, owner of Grill Junkies at 1288 Summit Ave. #188 in Oconomowoc, is moving the business to Delafield at the end of the month because of Highway 67 construction and high rent.   
Eric Oliver/Freeman Staff

OCONOMOWOC - Faced with more than a year of construction on the road that runs before Grill Junkies, owner Choo Ng decided to move the nine-and-a-half-year-old business to Delafield.

He said the widening of Highway 67/Summit Avenue, combined with the cost of his rent, convinced him to look for new locations. He selected the space formerly occupied by The BackStreet Café at 2566 Sun Valley Drive in Delafield. Grill Junkies will remain open at 1288 N. Summit Ave. until the end of April, but Ng hopes to be in the Delafield location by early May, or perhaps by mid-May.

“I am sad and excited because I know so many faces after spending so much time in one place,” Ng said. “A lot of the customers are from the Delafield area. Overall, I’ll be gaining a lot more people.” Ng hopes to draw in new customers from Pewaukee and Waukesha once relocated.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is handling the Highway 67 work, which started last month. The project includes expansion of southbound Highway 67 from two lanes to three between Interstate 94 and Lexington Drive, in addition to reconstruction of the roadway from Blue Ribbon Drive to I-94, and from Lexington Drive to Armour Road.

 Choo Ng, owner of Grill Junkies at 288 Summit Ave. #118 in Oconomowoc, is closing his doors at the end of the month and moving to Delafield.    
Eric Oliver/Freeman Staff

Also, there will be reconstruction of the southbound Highway 67 bridge over I-94 and reconstruction of the I-94 ramps west of Highway 67. A pedestrian tunnel under Highway 67 at Oconomowoc Parkway will be constructed as well.

The project, which has been broken down into phases, is scheduled for completion by late fall 2016.

Katie Miller, executive director of the Oconomowoc Area Chamber of Commerce, said she is surprised by how little she has heard from the business community about the road construction. She does feel that WisDOT has done a good job trying to inform the business community and the public about the project.
 

Attracting customers during construction

It’s important for businesses to “find ways to work together to keep business coming in,” Miller said.

She said the road construction will be a challenge for business owners and residents. It will be important for the community to make conscious decisions to frequent businesses in the construction zone.

“The chamber will continue to work with members to promote and to keep the economy strong through these disruptions,” Miller said.

Books & Company co-owner Lisa Baudoin said she’s been considering different options related to customer service and other promotions to help the independent book store through the construction project. Having a website to connect the business with customers helps, Baudoin said.

She is also exploring different signage and creation promotion to attract shoppers to Books & Company, 1039 Summit Ave.

It’s important for area residents to know that the affected businesses need their patronage to survive, Baudoin said.

Ng said he knows the road construction will cause him to lose sales. He also anticipates spending about one-third less on rent in his new Delafield location. Currently, he said being set back a distance from Summit Avenue hurts him because people drive by without seeing the restaurant.

The menu, staff and name will stay the same with the move, but Ng said the décor will be significantly different. He has hired a sculpture artist to create large sculptures for the walls, to give the restaurant a more artsy feel.

While the widened Summit Avenue may be nice for traffic, Ng said it will allow vehicles to move faster and be more likely to miss his restaurant.

For more information about the Highway 67 road construction, go to www.dot.wisconsin.gov/projects/seregion/67.

www.grilljunkies.com

www.booksco.com

www.oconomowoc.org

Email: kmichalets@conleynet.com