A long-shuttered dining room is about to make its big comeback.
The space at The Rogers apartment building, 103 E. Maple Avenue, was behind a closed door for nearly 30 years. Now those in charge have been renovating the dining room, bar and kitchen. Those spaces have been largely unused ever since the Ovens of Brittany restaurant closed in 1992.
“Our end game is to get a tenant in there,” said Sue Rechek, who works with Jim Conley, an owner of The Rogers. She said they are open to different ideas for what the potential tenant could be. Mayor Becky Glewen put out the word on Facebook about the possibility of a restaurant ahead of an open house event on Thursday. Community members involved with downtown revitalization efforts approached The Rogers’ owners about the idea of using the dining space once again.
Work started in April to clear out the former kitchen, which was being used for storage, and to restore the dining room and bar to the way it looked more than a quarter-century ago. Workers fixed up the paint and plaster of the walls and ceilings, vacuumed the curtains and rehung oil paintings that are part of the Conley collection.
Ovens of Brittany was a famous corner restaurant on State Street in Madison, where Tutto Pasta now stands. The restaurant opened up two satellite locations in the early 1990s, one in Mineral Point and one in Beaver Dam, with a vision of turning it into a chain. The concept did not work out and the original restaurant closed in 1995.
The Beaver Dam operation only lasted two to three years.
About 50 people were at the open house. Rechek said people reminisced about what used to be in the dining room, going back further than the Ovens of Brittany to other restaurants. In addition to The Springbrook, named after a rural retreat near Burnett, one was called The Dark Horse.
“Every comment was positive,” Rechek said. “People loved the way it’s done.”
A Victorian sideboard in the dining room held menus from the Ovens of Brittany Days, which included a Bloody Mary on sale for $1.95. Another menu offered a complete Friday night fish dinner for $5.95. The dining room is just off the entrance, with windows facing Maple Avenue.
There remains more remodeling work to do in the bar and lobby areas. The idea is to pretty up the space to get people in to look at it and to get more ideas flowing for the area’s future.