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REAL ESTATE | Soup Korner in Hartford, WI changes hands

Hartford, WI – The Soup Korner in Hartford, WI, is changing hands as owner Renee Paape is franchising and turning the business over to Michelle Nanez.


Paape and her husband Dave opened their first Soup Korner in West Bend, WI in 2020. Two years later, she expanded to the store in Hartford, Wi,

Soup Korner in West Bend, WI

“I had crazy dreams when I first opened Soup Korner, I told my attorney I wanted to open 500 in the first five years,” said Paape. “We’re going on four years this fall and we’re a little behind.”


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Paape laughs at her exuberant enthusiasm, but she is not apologetic with her pace in reaching her dream. “I’m just a bit more realistic now,” she said.

“It was always my goal for this location in Hartford to get it started and find somebody to take over. I found Chelle, and she has a passion for food, and I see a lot of me in her.”

The pair crossed paths almost a year ago. “I actually interviewed her and didn’t call her back, but we stayed in touch,” Paape said. “I’m a big believer that things happen for a reason, and I think this was the reason.”

The pair talked and both felt it was “just weird how everything fell into place.”

“She just reminds me a lot of me when I was younger,” Paape said. “It’s challenging to open a restaurant so to have somebody here to give her a chance. That’s my big thing, passing it forward and wanting to see Hartford succeed and continue to grow.”

Nanez, 30, knows the community well. A 2013 graduate of Hartford Union High School, she has always had a knack for the culinary arts.

“My mom was a single parent when I was growing up and I was always in the kitchen with her,” Nanez said. “My stepdad too loves to cook, and it was something I always felt comfortable with.”

Nanez took a couple of culinary classes at Moraine Park and later transferred to a bakery and pastry management program, graduating in 2018.

While Nanez developed a fondness for bakery and desserts, she realized cooking was her passion.

With local fast-food experiences under her belt, Nanez said it was time to take her career to the next level and look for her own place. Her hometown of Hartford seemed a perfect fit.

“Because I come from a big family, I’m used to making big pots of foods,” she said. “The Soup Korner is going to be the place to be. We are definitely going to bring a family vibe because I’ve lived here my whole life and I’m familiar with what people want.”

Nanez does not plan on making many changes to the menu, but she will bring her own flair to the table. “I will probably be incorporating some of my pastries, maybe even homemade donuts for the early risers.”

According to Paape the Soup Korner in Hartford will still remain the same when it comes to quick service and homemade food.

“The difference between our food and other places is we use whole foods,” she said. “We cook our chicken and shred it. We cook our ham and shred it; we cook our pork and beef, and we shred it.

“We don’t get too many things that are already prepackaged. Everything is fresh and I think that’s what makes us different.”

Soup Korner in Hartford, 1481 E. Sumner Street is open Monday – Tuesday 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., Wednesday – Friday 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. and closed weekends.

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