West Bend, WI – There’s comfort when someone wraps their arms around you and says, “Please… Sit…. Let me bring you something to eat.”
Executive Chef Lou Henschel of Cedarburg heads up the kitchen at Gary’s Place, 110 Wisconsin Street, best known for its era as The Binkery. Henschel provides that gentle skillset and promises whatever you order will be presented with the care of a homemade recipe. You won’t be disappointed.
“We’re going to have an all-American menu,” said Henschel. “We’re going to have macaroni and cheese, pizzas, wraps, paninis, burgers, really good burgers, Reubens… a lot of different things.”
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Henschel’s signature dish is salmon and salsa.
“That’s one of my most favorite fish,” he said. “Pan seared. I like to do a lot of different salsas, even a pineapple, jalapeno with some strawberries and watermelon and put that over my salmon.”
Henschel offers another salmon with a mesquite seasoning and sear it really nice almost black and do that with a roasted corn and black bean salsa, and kind of a Mexican rice.
Self-taught in the kitchen, Henschel credits his mother for sparking his interest.
“I was the youngest of five kids. I was too young to go work in the fields, so I stayed home and peeled potatoes and apples. I even rolled pie crust and I had a lot of fun with it,” he said.
Growing up in Green Lake, WI the home economics class in high school was one of Henschel’s favorites. “We had to make a lemon meringue pie. I got an ‘A’ from Mrs. Brightman,” he said describing the white fluffy peaks and golden brown of the meringue.
“I was happy as heck and after I graduated, they needed somebody to work weekends at the Lantern Supper Club in Markesan, WI where my mother worked as a cook. Soon after the general manager gave me a full-time job.”
From 18 years of age to 68, Henschel has been honing his craft at restaurants across the state including eateries in Rhinelander, Cable, and Hayward to Jack Pandl’s Inn in Whitefish Bay and the Boulevard Inn in downtown Milwaukee.
“I’ve come from a varied background of making just about anything,” said Henschel. “I like to have my hands in everything in the kitchen. Just trying to teach and make sure every plate goes out consistent.
“That’s the main thing; consistency, portion size, all of that. So, people are going to say well, that was really good. I will go back.”
Aside from the wonderful menu, Gary’s Place will also carry 32 Tap Beer lines, including a dozen Independent Breweries from the area.
Owner Gary Bacon has been working diligently behind the scenes to bring the restaurant up to a higher standard. “I was here during the Binkery days,” he said acknowledging his longevity.
Questioned about the direction and theme of the restaurant, Bacon said he always had fond memories on his grandmother and her apple pie.
“She made a lot of comfort food and I want people to come in here and feel comfortable,” he said.
Bacon has added his own flair to the restaurant, replacing the black paint and chandeliers with more a more downhome feel. “We put in new flooring upstairs, updated the outdoor patio and I think the menu and comfortable atmosphere is what will draw people back,” he said.
Tim Biloff is the general manager at Gary’s Place. Well known in the Cedarburg area, Biloff said he sees the potential.
“We will have great food and great service,” he said. “Consistency is going to be our key and people will come back.”
A timeline on opening, is dependent on staffing. If you’re interested in full time or part-time work, click HERE. Gary’s Place is hiring.