Simpson’s Restaurant has been selected as the Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2014 Small Business of the Year.
The Simpson family has owned and operated the popular restaurant on the corner of Main and Badger streets in downtown Waupaca for 82 years.
“My grandparents, Simmie and Ola Simpson, started it,” said Carey Simpson, who owns Simpson’s Restaurant with his wife Amy.
They were followed by his parents, Dale and Virginia Simpson.
Carey and Amy took over the business in the early 1990s. Until a few years ago, Carey’s brother Tom was also involved in the business.
Over the years, the decor has been updated and a major remodeling project took place in 1972, when the restaurant expanded to the south into what had been a Dodge dealership in the 1920s and later, the Loburg Garage.
“Where the pillars are now is where the old wall used to be,” Simpson said, while sitting in the bar. “We’ve replaced the bar and the back bar. There’s always a roof or a piece of equipment that needs to be replaced. We put in the deck in the late ‘90s.”
Simpson said the basic menu has remained fairly constant throughout the decades, “but you always have to tinker with it.”
The menu at Simpson’s ranges from salmon and haddock to steaks, baby back ribs and prime rib. For diners on a budget, there are the early bird specials and the soup, salad and potato bar at lunch.
“The No. 1 thing is that we have a really good staff,” Simpson said when asked about his resturant’s success. “They care and they take care of our customers. That’s why they come back.”
Simpson said there are about 35 full- and part-time employees on the restaurant’s staff.
“A lot of them have been here for a long time,” Simpson said. “We have several people who started their first jobs here, then they went to school and started a career, but they still work a night or two during the week.”
Simpson said he has enjoyed owning and operating the restaurant “because of all the nice people you meet. That includes staff and clientele and the fact that we’re in Waupaca as well.”