Loading
Search
NEWS STORIES

Decade-long comeback of downtown Antigo includes new winerySubmitted: 11/07/2019
Dan Hagen
Dan Hagen
Reporter/Anchor
dhagen@wjfw.com

Decade-long comeback of downtown Antigo includes new winery
ANTIGO - Ten years ago you would have seen a lot of vacant storefronts in downtown Antigo. In an effort to change that, city officials started a grant program for people trying to improve their business or start a new one. Forty-six businesses took advantage of the city's façade grant and improved the outsides of their stores.

But if you want to start a businesss, that can be a huge risk. For aspiring entrepeneurs like Bob Frei of Wild Epitome, the city also made it possible to weather even the worst of storms.

Bob Frei and his wife loved serving their homemade wine to guests.

"We got to the point where we were giving away more wine than we consuming ourselves," said Frei.


When they learned about the Antigo's downtown grant programs this summer, they decided to open a business.

But days before opening the July 17th disaster struck. Two big sections of their roof peeled back from the storms. They knew they were going to lose months of business. Frei and his wife weren't sure if they should go forward with their winery.

"There were some thoughts about what we were doing," said Frei.

But they decided to keep at it, mostly because Antigo's entrepreneurship grant gave them some financial flexibility.

"It helps out greatly for a small business like ourselves," said Frei. "For every dollar we spent on the building we were able to get 25 cents back."

City Administrator Mark Desotell said the entrepreneurship grant gives a partial match up to $100,000 in purchases.

"It might be a cash register; it might be a security system," said Desotell. "But it might be structural reinforcement or electrical upgrade to the building."

Through a partnership, the City, county and CoVantage Credit Union doled out $325,000 to incentivize businesses to spruce up the downtown. This spurred $1.2 million in total investment.

Even after the July storms, the adversity isn't over for the Freis. The downtown will undergo a complete road construction in 2020. Desotell said it is a necessary inconvenience that will pay off in the long run.

"We can't predict but we can be happy about all the things that are going to go right," said Desotell. "And we'll work with the downtown businesses to solve problems as they come up."

That help, plus the city's grant programs, means the Freis are confident that their business will overcome the upcoming road project, just like the July storms.

"We're open now, it made us stronger and I think we'll be successful," said Frei.

The Wild Epitome will have its grand opening ceremony on Saturday from noon to four. Normal hours Thursday and Friday 12pm-7pm, and Saturday 12pm-4pm.


Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
| Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com





 IN OTHER NEWS

Play Video

RHINELANDER - Salvation Army organizations across the country set out their red buckets and bells, including spots right in the Northwoods. 

However, the local Mincoqua, Tomahawk and Rhinelander Salvation Armies are short of volunteers in the coming week.

Kettle Coordinator Kim Swisher said that last year, Rhinelander's Salvation Army surpassed their goal of $40,000 with help from volunteers. So this year, the organization is amping up the goal after raising $52,000 in 2018.

+ Read More

Play Video

WAUSAU - As nearly eight inches of snow fell in Wausau last week, a local media outlet reported on a nearly 60-year-old law banning snowballs in public places around the city.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - People enjoyed 13 different chilies at First Supply and Gerhard's Kitchen and Bath Store in Rhinelander Friday afternoon. But they weren't there just for a meal. 

"Every year we do this chili feed to give back to our community," said Gerhard's employee Aly Nehls. "This year we chose Pete because we felt that he needed it the most and we could help him out."

Three years ago, Pete Rondeau fell down a staircase and broke his neck. After getting treatment in Minneapolis for a couple of years, he made his return to Rhinelander.

"This is what I consider home. I really wanted to be back in Rhinelander," said Rondeau. "I couldn't see living any place else."


+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - During the winter, people remove snow and ice from their cars, sidewalks, and driveways.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - Pioneer Park in Rhinelander won't open again until the summer of 2020.

For one day only this winter, the park's train depot museum will welcome guests for free.

At the holiday open house Saturday, people can enjoy refreshments and museum tours.

Model trains will be running throughout the day including a display based on 1950's Rhinelander.

The Rhinelander Railroad Association will also provide rides in a speeder car outside the museum.

Doors will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and donations are welcome.

+ Read More

Play Video

ONEIDA COUNTY - A proposal was developed by lawmakers, victims' rights advocates, and members of law enforcement to regulate testing of rape kits.

Oneida County Sheriff's office investigative captain Terri Hook said the bill would make all rape kits evidence.

"It takes a way the digression of law enforcement to decided what evidence is important and what evidence is not important," said Hook.

This new bill would create new timelines and protocols for nurses, victims, and members of law enforcement.

+ Read More

MADISON -
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers praised scientists as he lit the state Capitol's "holiday tree." Meanwhile, a high school choir sang Christmas carols.

The Friday ceremony was an odd juxtaposition of the two sides of the state's debate over the tree's symbolism.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: