Businesses, residents near Erin Hills react to the U.S. Open
Responses to golf championship vary among neighbors


June 23, 2017

Chief Grilling Officer Andrew Jepsen serves a group of patrons that have been working at Erin Hills on Thursday afternoon at the Barbecue Co. Grill and Catering in the town of Erin. Behind Jepsen is a wall of autographs from professional golfers who ate at his restaurant during the week of the 117th U.S. Open.
John Ehlke/Daily News

One thousand five hundred pounds of pork, 1,000 pounds of brisket and 600 pounds of his signature, now-famous chipotle bacon mac-n-cheese — those are just a few of The Barbecue Co.’s best sellers last week while the U.S. Open golf championship was at Erin Hills, less than a mile away from the restaurant.

“We were the winners,” said Andy Jepsen, the Hartford restaurant’s chief grilling officer. Every day just got busier and busier for Jepsen and his staff, and they said they’d welcome back the golf tournament any day.

Dee and Alvin Oldenburg and neighbor June Ketelhut, who live just a 10-minute walk from the course, shared similar delight for the U.S. Open being in their backyard. Along with one other neighbor, they teamed up and created a parking lot on their lawns. On the days leading up to the championship, Ketelhut said they had about 70 cars parked on her grass and by the last day they had closer to 350 cars.

“I wish they’d come every year,” said Ketelhut.

She was very pleased with the championship being so close to home but not just for the opportunity to make a little extra cash. Ketelhut said she also liked parking the cars and meeting all of the friendly people.

“We had fun parking cars,” said Dee Oldenburg. “The kids had fun — I’d welcome it back.”

The signature of Andrew “Beef” Johnston of England is seen on the wall among other signatures from professional golfers Thursday afternoon at the Barbecue Co. Grill and Catering in the town of Erin.
John Ehlke/Daily News

Lynn Barthel and her husband live in Hartford. They tried to rent out their house for the week but didn’t have any luck.

Many in Hartford said they didn’t see the economic boost they were expecting, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t enjoy all of the company.

“We wish we could’ve went,” Barthel said. “We heard everyone was very friendly.”

Steve Jost, owner of B’s Liquor in Hartford, said the town of Hartford could’ve done more to drive in business, like create more spaces for parking. Instead he said, West Bend, Oconomowoc and Menomonee Falls profited by shuttling people in.

“I was busy, don’t get me wrong, but not from them,” said Jost.

Mark Passig lives less than a half-mile from the course on Highway O, close enough to hear the trucks from the golf course on his property, and on Father’s Day he had to get a parking pass for his family to visit him.

“If I had a dollar from everyone that turned around in my driveway, I could put the kids through college,” said Passig.

Still, he wouldn’t be opposed to the idea of a large event like the U.S. Open coming to Erin Hills again.