For more than 14 seasons, Joe Jo’s Pizza and Gelato has been a family favorite in north Ephraim. That came to an end July 16 when owners Richard and Kathy Luther sold the business that has been their passion.
“Door County is such a special place, and we’ve been so blessed to live in such a beautiful part of the country,” Kathy said.
A customer once told her that if you’re meant to be in Door County, you end up here. But Luther said it’s not so simple, and most who own a business on the peninsula would agree.
“I say, if you live here, you worked hard to get here; and if you work here, you work very hard to stay here,” she said.
The sale will bring a face back to Door County that will be familiar to frequenters of Fred & Fuzzy’s Waterfront Grill. Asche Rider and her partner, Dave Reera, are the new owners. Rider worked for many years at Fred & Fuzzy’s before moving to Washington state in 2010. She said she’s eager to call Door County home.
“We love Door county, love having that sense of community, knowing your neighbors and being able to actively contribute to your community,” she said. “We’ve been looking for a smaller town to move to, and we kept coming back to Door County.”
The restaurant will have a new name and new concept. Fresh Take 42 will focus on fresh, healthful, convenient food created by Reera, a chef who has spent two decades in restaurant kitchens. Rider said they haven’t decided whether pizza will remain on the menu. They hope to open in early August.
The Luthers opened the restaurant in 2007, just as troubling signs in the national economy were bubbling to the surface, but they stuck with their dream and watched families grow and celebrate special occasions. Kathy said they’ve also heard sad news when a customer party came back from a winter away without one of its members.
“Our customers became friends who stepped up to help us when we were short staffed after the students went home,” she said. “They bussed tables, did the dishes and wrapped silverware, and one of them likes to clean anything in sight. These are the lifelong friendships that we treasure.”
The Luthers didn’t expect to sell in mid-season, but when the opportunity arose, Kathy said they had to take it after having the restaurant for sale for a year and a half. She said they will miss their staff, their customers and the relationships they built.
“Our dedicated, supportive staff saw us through the ups and downs of the busy seasons,” she said.