ARCADIA, Wis. — With a spectacular view of the valley below, Larry Brenner is looking to duplicate his earlier success at Vino in the Valley near Maiden Rock, Wis., with the new Vino Over the Valley outdoor dining venue that he hopes to open by the last weekend of April along Hwy. 95 seven miles west of Arcadia.
“We’ll serve classic Italian food,” along with a large selection of wine, beer and cocktails, in a new outdoor pavilion that will seat about 120 people, Brenner said earlier this month.
“This will be a unique outdoor dining experience,” he said, while construction crews continued to work on the interior of the new building, next to his Larry’s Lookout bar and grill, both at S2428 State Hwy. 95. Both businesses overlook the scenic Doelle Valley.
The large open-air pavilion that houses Vino Over the Valley has a pine interior and will have retractable vinyl sides with see-through panels that will come down during inclement weather. It also has patio-type heaters for cold weather.
Brenner bought the former Hansen’s Hold-Up Grill & Bar with five acres of land last September, renamed that business Larry’s Lookout and began building the outdoor pavilion next door. Larry’s Lookout seats about 50 people inside and another 50 on an outdoor deck that overlooks the valley.
“It’s more of a tavern/grill and has highly-trained chefs,” Brenner said of Larry’s Lookout, which is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. “It serves Wisconsin grill and bar food.”
Some of the most popular items on the new menu that started April 5 at Larry’s Lookout include the Fat Ass Reuben sandwich, prime rib sandwich, chicken Caesar wrap and a variety of burgers — with the bacon cheeseburger being the biggest seller. Larry’s Lookout also has appetizers and specials, as well as a kids menu section.
As for Vino Over the Valley, this year’s menu will be the same as the new menu at Vino in the Valley, which Brenner first opened in 2007 near Maiden Rock. “We want our staffs to be interchangeable, especially for the first year,” Brenner said of having the same menu for the two seasonal Vino locations this year.
Brenner predicted some of the most popular food items at Vino Over the Valley will be Brick Oven Italian Nachos, which are tricolor tortilla chips covered with mozzarella cheese, Italian sausage, tomatoes, green bell peppers, black olives, banana peppers and garlic Parmesan cream sauce; stuffed mushrooms; chicken Caesar salads; chicken fettuccini; and That’s Amore pizza topped with Italian sausage, pepperoni, green peppers and onions. Desserts include turtle ice cream cake and New York style cheesecake.
Vino Over the Valley also will have a Sunday buffet from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., featuring several entrees as well as salads, fresh seasonable vegetables and the chef’s special of the day. “And we’ll have steak night on Thursdays,” Brenner said.
“We serve wine from all over the world,” he said, including Vino Over the Valley house wines made by the Cannon River Winery in Cannon Falls, Minn. The outdoor dining venue also will serve a variety of domestic and craft beers, as well as cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages.
Vino Over the Valley’s hours will be 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. The seasonal business typically will be open from about May 1 through the end of October, Brenner said.
He had hoped Vino Over the Valley would make its debut this Thursday. But because cold weather slowed construction, he now hopes to open by the last weekend of April. Brenner will post updates on opening day on the venue’s website and Facebook page. A grand opening celebration is planned for sometime in June.
Vino Over the Valley will have fire pits and lawn games such as bean bags when it opens, and will have a gift shop by mid-summer, Brenner said. It and Larry’s Lookout also will have live music on weekends. “We’re very kid-friendly and family-oriented,” he said.
His sister, Julie Karlstad, oversees his Vino Over the Valley, Larry’s Lookout and Vino in the Valley operations. The Larry’s Lookout and Vino Over the Valley operations together will have about 65 employees, Brenner said.
Brenner was born and raised near Ellsworth, Wis., and spent 31 years in the Twin Cities selling radio advertising. For the past eight years, he has sold advertising for Ron Schara Productions in the Twin Cities suburb of Golden Valley. That firm produces a number of local, regional and national TV shows about the great outdoors.
After buying the 300-acre farm where he lives near Ellsworth and Maiden Rock, Brenner began thinking about possible special uses for the property, which is in a valley. He came up with the idea for his Vino in the Valley outdoor dining venue, which opened in 2007 in the Rush River Valley.
Vino in the Valley has been featured in a number of daily newspapers and tourism publications. “About 70 percent of our customers there are from the Twin Cities,” Brenner said. “But we’ve had people from as far away as Germany, Australia and Italy.”
Brenner had ridden past his new rural Arcadia location for years during motorcycle rides. One day, he chatted with the owners and discovered the property was for sale.
“It’s been a labor of love,” Brenner said of operating Vino in the Valley and Larry’s Lookout, and preparing to open Vino Over the Valley. “I enjoy people and hearing their stories.”