For many, the closing of Delavan’s famous Millie’s Pancake Haus in 2013 meant that generations of family traditions came to a screeching halt. But thanks to the vision and inspiration of one couple from the area, the former pancake haus has been transformed into a Midwest entertainment destination, giving way to new generations of traditions. Named Rosewood, it pairs upscale, caberet-style theater with superb farm-to-table cuisine for most any occasion.
The history of how this special place came to be is as compelling as the venue. As singers and entertainers, local residents Mark and Gretch Hladish had long felt that a high quality, Branson-style entertainment venue, combined with inspired cuisine, could fill a key niche in southeastern Wisconsin. But, originally, they only envisioned their role in the dream as performers, not owners.
In October of 2006, the then-owners of Millie’s Pancake Haus hired the Hladishs to put together a 60-70 minute cabaret-style show to entertain the dozens of bus tours that frequented the unique restaurant and gift shops every month. The seasoned performers jumped at the opportunity, recorded an album, put a brochure together and added 45 dates on the calendar – and their new Branson-esque performance career was launched.
For the next six seasons, the Hladishs performed from April through December each year, selling more than 30,000 tickets for a 74 seat venue. By the end of 2012, they had developed a tremendous following by tour bus companies from all over the Midwest. The only problem was, while their entertainment business was growing, Millie’s restaurant business was steadily declining. Ultimately, this led to the closing and eventual auction of the property in early 2013.
[metaslider id=”1351″] But just as one dream died, another one emerged. Just days before Millie’s was to be auctioned off, and with nothing more than a wing and prayer, the Hladishs asked themselves the big “What if?”. They made a few phone calls, and in what can only be described as divine intervention, Mark & Gretch were able to put together a small investment group in the eleventh hour – eventually winning the bid to purchase half of the former Millie’s property. Their dream of what is now known as Rosewood was on its way to reality.
The physical transformation that has taken place at the former pancake haus is nothing short of miraculous, and many of its features have been repurposed and reused. The Hladish’s commitment to employing local designers, architects and contractors was unprecedented. They even kept several dozen people employed over the past 2-1/2 years, during the extensive renovation process.
“We took a 1964 building and made it look 100 years old,” Mark said with pride.
Behind the vintage look and appeal, Rosewood’s facility has been fully transformed and equipped with every modern-day technological amenity you can imagine. – all cleverly hidden by old world craftsmanship and stunning architectural features.
Officially, Rosewood opened to the public for performances in early October, 2015. But because it is no longer a restaurant, Mark and Gretch are often asked, “What exactly IS Rosewood?”
“Our investors had a hard time understanding it at first as well,” Gretch laughed. “And I think they’re still discovering all that it can be. But what we don’t want to do is put Rosewood in a box. Because Rosewood is really whatever our client that day wants it to be.”
Mark added, “Rosewood is an event-driven space primarily…. We have put together a beautiful space with great ambience and a state of the art kitchen. We have a chef, but we’re not a restaurant. We have a bar and a well-stocked liquor closet, but we’re not a night club. What we are is a beautiful space where content drives the schedule.”
During the week, the content is driven by group sales and the entertainment the Hladishes and several other performers provide through their themed shows.
Food is also a driving force behind Rosewood. Chef John Schnupp, a 1988 graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and current professor at Loyola University, has partnered with the Hladishes to create unique farm-to-table menus for every event.
“With John here, I see opportunity for mentoring and apprenticing to happen with high school students learning the culinary trade…or adults who want to learn the concept of healthier, farm-to-table cooking,” Gretch explained.
Mark added, “Rosewood answers the question of what you can do around here when the lake is frozen and the golf courses are closed. We don’t have just one thing we do, but rather we have a great space we can do many things in…. That’s what we want Rosewood to be.”
Rosewood is an extraordinary space, with a rich history, limited only by your imagination. Whether you need a gorgeous wedding venue, a technologically-advanced space to host your corporate event or fundraising dinner – or even a place to throw your 12 year-old son a video game birthday party of his dreams via their 12’x8’ HD video wall – the Hladishes can take anyone’s dream and make it into a happy reality. Anything is possible at Rosewood.
2484 County Rd O S
Delavan, WI 53115