It’s a Saturday night. The growl in your stomach says it’s time to find somewhere to eat. It’s a beautiful evening, snow sparkling in the moonlight and you want a cozy, woodsy dinner place.
No surprise, for many, Patti’s Murmuring Waters Resort is the perfect destination. The century-old log construction sets customers squarely in the perfect Northwoods-y setting.
Murmuring Waters Resort’s history began with John Eliason building it several years after his arrival from Sweden. The name for the resort came from the poem, “Hiawatha”, suggested by son Carl. The business has had other owners over the years and the present day owner is the resort’s namesake, Patti.
For 26 years Patti and Rich Sparrow have been the proud proprietors of the well-known resort. Sadly, in March 2016, Rich passed away. Patti is in the process of negotiating a lease with an option to buy arrangement for the resort with Tim Kiesow, which they hope will be finalized this spring.
In the meantime, Patti continues to welcome her guests warmly, offering a wide selection of libations. She offers daily specials on her specials board and a great selection of burgers, hot dogs, sausages, fish and plenty of great hot appetizers, soups, chili and much more.
Rich and Patti purchased Murmuring Waters Feb. 1, 1992, They had vacationed in Boulder Junction for years. They finally made the decision that they were ready to leave the Chicagoland area.
“At that time in our life, we wanted to get out of the city and come up here and have a mom and pop place that the two of us could run,” Patti explained.
A friend of theirs from Boulder Junction told the Sparrows that the Murmuring Waters Resort was for sale. They made an offer to owners, Dick and Lucy Adamski, who accepted their offer.
Patti took charge of the bar and Rich did the cooking. “He ( Rich) was the chef in the family. I tended bar. He did all the cleaning in the morning and he would be in the kitchen cooking and that was our arrangement. We worked very well together,” she remembered wistfully.
Over the past 26 years, Patti has managed as many as five cabins that were rented out to the public. In the 70s and 80s, the resort’s cabins had been sold to private owners.
Today, Patti has one cabin she manages as the other owners took their cabins out of the rental market for personal use.
Patti’s favorite part of the business are the people who have become friends in addition to patrons. “We like to treat people that way we like to be treated,” she said.
“We’ve made a lot of good friends over the years. It’s the people part that I will miss when I do get out of here. Luckily, I will still be here and so I will be able to come down and visit with them. That’s the good part. Even people you haven’t seen, they keep in touch with you.”
Patti also takes a lot of pride in how well she has maintained the structure and keeping it shiny clean. “In between seasons, we closed down and we would strip everything. Everything that didn’t move got cleaned. It felt good when people noticed it and told us we had the cleanest place in the Northwoods,” she recalled.
So what will retirement hold for Patti? She will remain in her house that is situated in front of the tavern. She has no desire to move to a warm-weather climate. “I am not a warm weather person. I like my seasons. I love them all. Fall is beautiful. Winter is beautiful. Spring - everything is popping up. I love seeing all the critters come through and the deer in the spring and the bears come and grab all the feeders,” she laughed.
She is also looking forward to spending more time with her two beloved cats, Callie, 21, a calico and Sandy, 8, an orange tabby. “They are good company,” she said fondly.
Having the time and money to work on her own home is something she is anticipating, instead of devoting all her resources to the business.
It has been a good run for Patti. “I have treated people the way I would like to be treated and it has paid off over the years,” she concluded.
For those of us who have known her over the past two decades, it is great news that she will remain in the area. She always has made us feel very welcome in her establishment and we look forward to continuing to visit this wonderful place.