If you haven’t been to The Grasshopper lately you’ve missed the latest inspiration by owner Stefanie Ulma. “I have booths,” Ulma said with classic ‘Stefanie’ excitement. “It’s so cozy and gives people a little privacy.”
The high-backed booths are made of blonde wood and recycled church pews for seating. The booths are blocked off with a decorative top rail that offers a bit of a canopy affect.
The high-top tables that used to be along the walls in the ‘library’ section of the restaurant have been moved to the bar area.
The Grasshopper is located at 241 N. Main Street in downtown West Bend. Ulma will celebrate five years in business in April. She opened her corner restaurant in 2010 combining the old St. Somewhere Café and Ruth Anne’s Gourmet Market at 241 and 243 N. Main St.
Over the years The Grasshopper has morphed through interior and menu changes (remember the homemade gelato?) while maintaining its classy Audrey Hepburn-Frank Sinatra atmosphere.
Coming up this summer, watch for Ulma to open a downtown grocery store that will carry necessities along with her signature sandwiches, dressings, and bakery.
Last August I broke the story about a new grocery to open on North Main Street in West Bend: A new downtown grocery store is in the making in West Bend. Stefanie Ulma, owner of Grasshopper Restaurant, 241 N. Main St., is planning on opening a store in the building next door to Laurel’s Camera & Gifts at 237 N. Main St.
The store will feature house-made products from the Grasshopper including dressings, burgers, all the organic grass-fed meats along with cheese, wine, beer and necessities.
“The store fits the restaurant,” said Ulma. “People keep asking us to sell our dressings or can we buy the mushroom burgers, and now they can.”
The store will also offer free delivery to neighbors in West Bend with an added plan similar to meals on wheels for the elderly. “My mom used to do that and I thought it was cool,” Ulma said. “With our delivery, we can do two checks a week on the elderly; bring a hot meal from the restaurant and groceries. This way families would know their loved one is getting food and they’re being checked on.”
Part of Ulma’s larger plan also includes a rooftop garden that will provide produce for the grocery and benefit the restaurant. In order to get the grocery off the ground, Ulma had to make some difficult decisions. The toughest was closing the restaurant Friday nights. “To get the grocery store to the point where I needed to get it I’m changing the hours of the restaurant and Friday nights will have to go away right now. Grasshopper will be open daily and Saturday from 7 a.m. – 4 p.m.”
Ulma has been working on the grocery plan the last two years, but said she wasn’t making headway because of the demanding schedule at the restaurant. “Deciding to take away Friday nights was a very difficult decision but one that was needed. This is going to make a giant difference so I can meet with contractors and get the store open,” Ulma said.
The timeline on the opening is not definite yet. The store space has been gutted and reframed; Ulma said the next part is to just put it back together. The name of the grocery has also not yet been determined.
Grasshopper opened in March 2010. It started as a cozy place to get high-quality food for breakfast and lunch in an atmosphere that was uber trendy with an old school Audrey Hepburn/Frank Sinatra flare. Since then it’s grown and morphed to a relaxed indoor library setting with a long bar yet the excellent food remains.
“I’m excited to do something else for West Bend that’s different than just this restaurant,” said Ulma. “One thing that will stay the same will be delivering to the customer the best of the best. It’s never been about the money it’s been about giving a great product to the people.”