The turnover in Door County’s restaurant scene isn’t slowing down.
Harbor View Grill, the restaurant with rooftop seating overlooking the Egg Harbor Marina, has been purchased by Wausau-based Masgay Restaurants, headed by Mike Masgay. It’s one of several purchases by the group, which has also bought Deer Run Golf Course on Washington Island and Bedrock Flats, a collection of houses on County E between Egg Harbor and Baileys Harbor.
Masgay spent part of his youth in northern Door County and attended Gibraltar school.
Harbor View will be reincarnated as Mezzanine Rooftop. Though the restaurant won’t open until spring, a menu is posted at Mezzaninerooftop.com.
“We’ll be renovating the entire building,” Masgay said. “We more or less bought the view.”
That renovation will include not only kitchen and dining room updates, but upgrades to the rest of the building to make all the shops cohesive. “We’re taking a holistic approach to the entire building,” Masgay said.
He plans to operate it seasonally, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, and taking advantage of the liquor license by offering craft cocktails later into the evening.
Masgay confirmed he has also purchased Deer Run Golf Course with a partner. There he plans to open a beer garden, continue operating the golf course and make additional improvements to the 50-acre property over time.
The Washington Island property has staff housing on the premises, but for his mainland operations, he purchased Bedrock Flats for employee housing.
“We’re putting a lot of work into Bedrock Flats,” Masgay said, with a bit of a chuckle. “I want it to be better than the housing I lived in as a summer worker.”
Masgay Restaurants operates several dining establishments in the Wausau area and plans to open five more over the next 14 months. But his eyes turned to Door County in part because of the time he spent here working in kitchens during his youth, most recently as a manager at Chef’s Hat in Ephraim around 2003.
Masgay said he isn’t deterred by the challenging market for restaurants, with higher food costs and a struggle to find workers, let alone pay them.
“It’s tough,” he said. “I understand why people would want to get out of it. But our company has grown over the last 20 years by taking smart risks. We have a really strong top 20% in our company. We’ve gotten big enough that we can do things we enjoy and have unique places where our crew can work.”
Square Rigger and Little Bit of Coffee Sells
Masgay’s purchases come on the heels of the sale of the Whistling Swan earlier in January and the recently announced sale of the Square Rigger Lodge and the Little Bit of Coffee cafe in Jacksonport.
The Square Rigger includes 2.4 acres and a private beach with a 19-room motel, five cottages and a rental home in addition to the cafe and bar.
Elizabeth LeClair, known as “Little Bit” to most, has operated the lodge and cafe. The business has been in LeClair’s family since it was built in 1984. According to a press release from Creative Business Solutions, which brokered the sale, the buyers plan to continue operating the lodge and are longtime guests of the property.
It’s been a busy 12 months of sales for area dining establishments. Since the beginning of 2021, there are new owners at many mainstay restaurants, including The Cookery (now Skaliwags), Taco Cerveza, Fish Creek Grill, Whistling Swan, Juniper’s Gin Joint (now The Loft), Czarnuska (now Lost Tuk Tuk) and Joe Jo’s Pizza (now Fresh Take 42). In addition, Fred & Fuzzy’s closed, and the Gibraltar Grill was converted from a restaurant to condominiums.