Rustic Manor continues growing in Delafield
Owners planning to expand scenic wedding venue

By Kelly Smith - Special to The Freeman

Nov. 1, 2017

 The owners of Rustic Manor 1848, a unique barn wedding and banquet facility on Highway 83 between Hartland and Delafield, won approval from the Plan Commission to expand the barn and provide more space for clients attending weddings and banquets. The Common Council is expected to approve the commission’s recommendation.
Kelly Smith/Special to The Freeman

DELAFIELD — Because of their entrepreneurial spirit and ability to work with government bureaucracies, Eric and Whitney Shneyder are familiar faces in City Hall.

Last week, following a brief public hearing, the Plan Commission unanimously approved plans for a 2,000-square foot expansion of Rustic Manor 1848, the scenic and unique barn wedding and banquet venue owned by the Shneyders.

After the meeting, Eric Shneyder told The Freeman the new additions are part of a plan to make clients more comfortable in a steadily expanding business that in the future will include a photographic studio.

“I am very pleased at the success that this young couple has had,” Mayor Michele DeYoe said later.

“Their hard work and entrepreneurial spirit has helped make the city of Delafield a destination for a unique wedding and banquet facility that benefits the entire community,” she added.

When they first appeared before the commission nearly 8 years ago, Whitney Probst of Hartland and Eric Shneyder of Pewaukee were madly in love millennials in their mid-20s who could not find a Lake Country wedding venue that suited them.

So, they dreamed of turning a more than 160-year-old farmhouse, along with its barn and 12 acres of scenic woodlands, into a destination venue for weddings and banquets.

But they faced a bureaucratic nightmare because the Walcott family farmhouse and barn were located on a state highway, near the border of two municipalities, within the boundaries of complicated sewer service and border agreements, and some of the property was environmentally sensitive because a river ran through it.

It took 18 months and more than two dozen meetings with six different agencies to obtain approvals for the business located at 3115 Highway 83.

Between May of 2013 and September of 2014 they met with officials representing Delafield, Hartland, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the Hartland-Delafield Water Pollution Commission and Lake Country Fire & Rescue.

They had to pay $80,000 to hook into sewer service.

They had to pay about $10,000 to have an additional fire hydrant installed even though there were already two other hydrants on the property.

Long experience, attention to detail

Between them, they have nearly 20 years’ experience in the hospitality industry.

She was the manager of a popular ski slope in Slinger. He was a cook at popular Milwaukee restaurant when they met at a culinary class at Milwaukee Area Technical College.

They developed an 80-page business plan and impressed local authorities with their attention to detail and knowledge of the regulations of each of the units of government.

“Whitney was the best prepared, most buttoned-down neophyte developer that I have ever dealt with. I have had experienced developers who were not as well prepared when they came to meetings as she was,” City Planner Roger Dupler told a reporter in 2015.

Dupler and Common Council President Tim Aicher were chatting about the Shneyders before last week’s Plan Commission meeting.

“They ought to hire themselves out as consultants who can help other people get through this process,” said Aicher, who is also a plan commissioner.

Usually they appear together but during the Oct. 25 commission meeting, Eric was on his own; Whitney was “under the weather” with the flu and unable to attend.

The new addition will increase the seating capacity of the barn for weddings and banquets and provide more efficiency in the storage of liquor and beer.

They also requested an addition to their home on the site that will provide for a covered garage and possibly additional bed-and-breakfast facilities in the future.

The work is expected to be completed in the late fall and early winter.

The business will be closed, as usual, in February and reopen with a March 7th open house showing off the improvements in the barn.

Expansion of the farmhouse residence is expected by April 1.

“It is the story of two people who have worked very hard to develop a business that tries to provide the best service it can,” Eric Shneyder concluded.