In the almost three years Waupaca Ale House has been open, it has won two awards from the Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce.
First was the 2009 Grand Facelift Award.
Now, it has received the 2011 Rising Star Award.
The 2011 awards were presented during the Chamber’s annual awards ceremony, held Tuesday, Jan. 24, at Waupaca Ale House.
“I’m very happy about it. From winning the Grand Facelift after the first year and then the Rising Star. I put a lot of time into this place,” said Justin Leick, the restaurant’s general manager.
Last year saw the addition of their White House Tent Facility.
“We had so many people asking about outdoor receptions,” he said, noting that their site has a golf course and hotel.
The 4,000-square foot framed tent can be heated or cooled and is available from mid May through the end of October.
Last year, there were 24 weddings in the tent.
In all, Waupaca Ale House hosted 70 weddings in 2011, and on 24 of those days, two weddings were going on at the same time – one in the ballroom and another in the tent.
With the decision to offer the tent for outdoor receptions and other events came discussions about such things as a stereo system, flooring and chairs.
“Everything is brand new,” Leick said. “We’re glad now that we did it the way we did it.”
In 2009 and 2010, they were turning people away because the ballroom was so successful, he said.
With the hotel and ale house bar on site, they can offer those who want an outdoor reception the proximity and convenience to those things that they cannot get anywhere else, Leick said.
The area for wedding ceremonies is private and secluded, and the tent has also been used for graduation parties and family reunions.
He said Silver Mist Garden Center did the landscaping and that the enhancements they have done at Waupaca Ale House benefit the entire community.
“Obviously, when our hotel books, we send people to the other hotels in town,” Leick said.
He said that with 50 percent of their weddings being for people from outside of Waupaca, those who come here to attend those weddings often spend the weekend in the community. They visit restaurants and shops.
Waupaca Ale House also brought on Erin Helgeson as director of sales at the ale house and hotel and David Habighorst as the general manager of the hotel.
Last summer, they employed 25 more people than they had the previous summer. “This year, I expect to have even more staff,” Leick said.
Terri Schulz, president of the Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce, said, “I think they have really grown into a nice business. They continue to grow it.”
The Rising Star Award is given to a business that has been in operation for between one and five years and that provides an economic enhancement to the area.
“I think they truly are a rising star,” Schulz said.
Leick said it is difficult to put into words how he feels about Waupaca Ale House being the 2011 recipient of that award.
“I’m thankful for the Chamber and the community – everyone who supports us and, of course, the city for backing us,” he said.