Amanda Orr of West Bend
smiles as she raises her glass of beer while enjoying
company of Stefani Prada, left, Keith Shanter, center,
and Michael Prada Thursday night at Riverside Brewery
and Restaurant in West Bend.
John Ehlke/Daily News
Wayne Kainz and his wife, Dana, wanted to open a
restaurant in downtown West Bend in 2004.
They didn’t think about opening a brewery with it.
wife is from West Bend and it was the downtown
association that asked us if we wanted to make it a brew
pub,” Wayne said. “At the time, we said, ‘Sure. We like
beer. We’ll do it.’” What a decision that turned out to
Going strong for 13 years now, Riverside Brewery &
Restaurant was one of the 10 restaurants within
Washington County recommended by Daily News readers in a
recent informal poll.
picked Riverside Brewery because the staff is always
friendly, professional and helpful,” West Bend’s Ann
Daley said. “And the food is excellent.”
What a journey it has been for Wayne and Dana. It
started in the late 1990s when Wayne lived in Chicago
for about seven years after college.
1998, Wayne’s brother married Dana’s sister. Dana was
the maid of honor and Wayne was the best man. That’s how
“Three weeks after the wedding, I moved in with her from
Chicago,” Wayne said. “We got married two years later
and we’re still married now.”
Wayne was working with his dad’s construction business
and admitted it was something he didn’t want to do long
term. So he decided to try something different.
applied for the daytime bartender position at Barley Pop
Pub in Germantown. He held that position for 10 months.
“The general manager came up to me and said, ‘I don’t
want to be general manager anymore. Do you want to
switch?’” Wayne said.
weeks later, he was the establishment’s general manager.
obviously saw something in me,” Wayne said with a smile.
“(The owner) said, ‘You’ll be fine. Just don’t screw
anything up.’” After four years in that position, Wayne
and his wife thought about opening a restaurant.
They wanted to for two reasons. One, Dana is a West Bend
native. Two, they believed the restaurant options were
sparse in the early 2000s.
They Kainzes got the encouragement to open a downtown
West Bend restaurant from Kevin Schultz, owner of
Mountain Outfitters, also in downtown West Bend.
said, ‘You should open this in downtown,’” Wayne said.
idea sounded great. But Wayne quickly recognized a
problem: minimal parking.
“But after we looked and we saw the river runs behind
and saw this building, we thought it was the perfect
spot,” Wayne said.
river added an element that could enhance the
restaurant’s atmosphere by way of patio seating. That
was too good to pass up, despite the concern of parking.
Still to this day, Wayne and Dana, who has worked for
Johnson & Johnson for more than 30 years as a sales rep,
are glad they took the risk, but also for the
partnership with Westbury Bank across the street.
bank agreed to leave its parking lot open for restaurant
our business plan and the bank agreed with us, it was
risky, but if we made the four main things that I look
at is, made the food, made the beer, made the service
and the atmosphere above, way above average, people will
come,” Wayne said. “The community has been nothing but
outstanding to us for 13 years.
“It’s been a fantastic ride. We feel fortunate and
blessed that they’ve supported us.”
They also had the belief it would work.
just believed,” Wayne said. “My experience, her business
experience and we’re dreamers. We do take risks. We
believed that we would make it work for long term in our
ability to take a risk is a credit to his father, Wayne
said. He was a custom-home builder for more than 40
“After Vietnam, he basically opened his own business,”
Wayne said. “He took that risk and made a great family
life for his six kids and my mom.”
of the key aspects Wayne believes that has helped the
restaurant over the years is consistency. And not just
the consistency in the food. Rather, it’s the
consistency of the people making the food and bringing
it out to the customers.
About 50 people work at Riverside. Of that 50, 15 have
been with the restaurant for at least eight years — five
are in the kitchen and 10 work in the front, or the
“They make it go,” Wayne said, adding it is rare, very
rare in the restaurant industry to have a veteran staff.
Wayne, in a reflection with his wife, can’t help but
think of how it all came together.
“Everything happens for a reason,” Wayne said. “I go
back and say, ‘OK if my brother wouldn’t have met his
wife because they are both teachers, they don’t meet and
get married and I don’t meet Dana and get married and
this doesn’t happen here.”
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