Take one of the Northwoods oldest log buildings and one lifelong trained chef and what do you get? Murmuring Waters Lodge!
The 100-year-old-charmer changed ownership almost 2 years ago when Tim Kiesow took over from Patti Sparrow. What a perfect transition this has been! Even Patti brags about the food now being created by Kiesow and his son, Tanner.
This isn’t just some bar food cooking. Tim was raised in a restaurant family business in Neenah, at the Rabeno Ballroom. While still in high school, his counselor took him to see a culinary school. That’s all it took for the 15-year-old to set his sight on becoming a chef.
“I knew from day one that I was going to do that,” Kiesow said about attending the school.
Upon graduation, Kiesow attended Fox River Valley Technical College where he enrolled in the nationally acclaimed culinary school.
After graduation, he worked at a couple of restaurants in Appleton, The Classic Arts and the Lake Poygan Duck Inn. At that time the Duck Inn was owned by Tom Polacek, who also owned the Whitetail businesses in St. Germain.
Five years of working at the Duck Inn under his belt, Polacek approached Kiesow with an offer to manage the Whitetail Inn’s kitchen.
“At the time it wasn’t the right move for me. I got into the Country Club lifestyle. I worked at Lac Vieux des Morts Country Club. A year later I was approached by Waupaca Country Club, to be their Executive Chef. I was a Sous Chef at Lac Vieux des Morts. I was at the Waupaca Country Club for 10 years,” he explained.
With the family demands of three little boys under the age of three, a wife who worked long hours as an LPN and the onset of a recession, Tim decided to leave his chef’s career. He got a job in food sales for Reinhart Foodservice.
During his 10 years with Reinhart, he became a supervisor and his territory included the Northwoods. It was finally the perfect time to move his family up here. The Northwoods was a familiar place for Kiesow as his family owned property and vacationed up here.
After a couple of years, he went back into sales. The traveling part of being a supervisor was hard on the family. He did make a lot of good connections during that time.
Then the economy slid back into another recession and he decided to go back to his real passion of being a chef. He took a job as a private chef at a family compound on Plum Lake for four years.
“Again, it was a great job. I really enjoyed it!” he said smiling broadly.
However, the seasonal aspect of the job left him at odds with how to spend his time during the offseason months.
“I’m not a sit-on-the-couch type person in the winter,” he said. That is how he began working at Patti’s Murmuring Waters. He also had worked at Vinchi’s Hillside and the Wolf Pack. “I kinda just stuck with Patti – it was a good fit.”
Kiesow said Patti approached him a couple of times to work and he turned her down. “You don’t tell Patti ‘no,’” he laughed.
After a potential sale for the property fell through, Kiesow and Patti began serious negotiations. With a light schedule at his private chef’s job, he was able to help out Patti a lot that summer. He took a business course and consulted with his connections in the restaurant business as to what to expect and what he needed to do.
April 1, 2018, Kiesow took over the management of the lodge and officially took over April 21. He had his first fish fry on Memorial weekend and he estimates he served 28 dinners.
Today, he serves between 170 — 190 dinners on his very popular Friday fish fries during the summer and 140 to 150 during the winter. He also serves specials throughout the week. “With more to come!” he quipped.
Tim credits the Murmuring Waters quaint structure with being an irresistible draw for customers.
His favorite part of running the restaurant? “That’s why I like it. It’s a little bit of everything. The people are the best part of it. Cooking has always been my pull. Then trying to figure out the next special that is going to draw them in.”
Tim is slowly getting into the private party business. That first summer he had a huge retirement party for Patti that went off without a hitch.
“I am doing more remodeling and have to upgrade the kitchen to handle the business,” Kiesow said.
What were his parting thoughts? “ I don’t think a lot of people know that this place exists. It’s that hidden gem. Unfortunately, this is one the last places around like this,” he reminisced.
“This was one of my dreams. I was thinking that I was going to be an instructor at Fox Valley Technical College. But this was always on top — to have my own place. And here we are!”
Be sure to follow the new adventures of Murmuring Waters Lodge on their Facebook page. You can find Murmuring Waters on Lost Lake at 8105 Patti’s Place. The phone number is (715) 542-2066.
One last note, Patti is still a part of Murmuring Waters Lodge. She lives behind the bar in the ranch house and can be found frequently sitting around the corner of the bar!