Wega Drive-In under new management
By Angie Landsverk
After several seasons working at Wega Drive-In, Georgia Radtke is now running the business.
“I’ve worked here since I was 16. I have quit every job in February or March, because I love working here,” she said. “I thought, if I keep quitting all my jobs to work here, shouldn’t I just buy it?”
That is exactly what she did.
On July 12, the 22-year-old became the owner of Wega Drive-In.
Radtke bought the business from Lisa and Adam Alix, who owned it for more than 10 years.
Wega Drive-In had been for sale a couple years.
Others expressed interest in buying it, but never followed through with it, Radtke said.
As this season began, Radtke told Lisa she was going to end up owning it for another 12 years.
Then Radtke asked Lisa if it would be stupid for someone her age to buy the business.
Lisa told Radtke it would not be, as she had worked there several seasons and liked it.
With the exception of last year, Radtke had worked at the drive-in every season since she turned 16.
She did not work there last season following the birth of her son, Brent.
Radtke always had other jobs in between her seasonal one at Wega Drive-In.
The relationships she developed with the customers was one of the reasons why she always went back to the drive-in for another season.
Wega Drive-In opened for this season in April, and it was around that time Radtke had the conversation with Lisa about buying the business.
Lisa’s words of encouragement that day resulted in Radtke contacting First National Bank the next day “and getting the ball rolling.”
She went to the bank’s office in Waupaca, where Radtke said she was told that with her attitude, she would be a great owner of the business.
Due to her age and limited credit history, her parents, Linda and Ted Radtke, are on the loan with her.
She appreciates the support of her family and of her fiancé, Daniel Tews.
He works at Waupaca Foundry and cleans the drive-in’s machines and handles maintenance.
Radtke’s sister, Joan, and brother, Oliver, work for her at times.
About 10 people are employed at the drive-in.
Becoming the owner of Wega Drive-In was a long process and one that involved a lot of paperwork, Radtke said.
During that time, she asked Lisa questions almost daily.
“If this happened, what I would do in this situation?” was one of her questions.
She also wondered how to handle bad checks, the till and what to do if something was not working.
Radtke said Lisa answered all her questions thoroughly and patiently.
However, there was one question Lisa would not answer until Radtke became the owner.
“I asked her how to make the root beer, but she wouldn’t tell me because it was a secret,” Radtke said.
After Radtke bought the business, she learned the homemade recipe.
The drive-in was originally an A&W.
Many of Radtke’s older customers remember those days, as they tell her about stopping there for root beer after playing baseball.
“A lot of people say they’ve been coming here a long time,” Radtke said.
After it was an A&W, it was then called M & J’s before becoming Wega Drive-In.
“And I’m going to keep it Wega Drive-In,” she said.
Lisa and her son, Wes, are working with Radtke this season, and Lisa will help her start next season as well.
“It’s weird for me. It’s hard for me to tell her what to do,” Radtke said.
On Radtke’s first day of being the owner, Lisa said to her, “OK boss, what would you do in this situation?”
Radtke felt like a deer in headlights that day but now feels confident making decisions.
“She’s been a great confidence booster. She’s one of my best friends,” Radkte said of Lisa.
Radtke, who graduated from Weyauwega-Fremont High School three years ago, does not plan to change much about the menu.
She does plan to extend the drive-in’s season.
“In the past, once September hit, it only had been open Saturday and Sunday and then closed,” Radtke said. “I’m going to try to stay open Thursday through Sunday in September and then (be open) Saturday and Sunday in October.”
She said it will be weather dependent.
Wega Drive-In is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Once school starts, it closes at 8 p.m.
Radtke’s other idea is to have outdoor movie nights for families on some Saturdays.
“With all the kids here all the time, I think it would be cool,” she said. “I would have loved that when I was a kid.”
She said the movies will be for children.
“I’m going to focus on Disney, because I am a Disney fanatic. ‘Moana’ will be the first one,” she said.
Radtke works at Wega Drive-In every day.
When the season ends this fall, she looks forward to being a stay-at-home mother for a number of months before it is time to prepare for her next season.