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Resort-area Lake Street Café taps great outdoors during COVID-19

Restaurant in Elkhart Lake, Wis., finds ways to thrive amid pandemic restrictions

Lake Street Café, a 21-year-old dining fixture in the Wisconsin resort town of Elkhart Lake, was in a fortunate position during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The restaurant, which appeals to casual diners as well as those seeking a more upscale experience, was able to tap its side beer garden and turn it into an outdoor dining room, which helped it weather the summer resort season and appeal to the lucrative summer crowds.

The restaurant was closed to indoor dining from March until mid-May, although it did carry-out.

Patio heaters and complimentary blankets are helping extend the outdoor season as summer turns to fall, said co-owner Lynn Shovan.

“We were able to stay busy,” said Shovan, “and we were fortunate to have the side garden.” The outdoor area was re-landscaped and with a bar, heaters and expansive spacing between tables. The restaurant was able to accommodate about the same number of guests it would during a non-pandemic season, she said.

Lake Street Café has two indoor dining rooms, one casual and one that offers white tablecloths and candles.

The restaurant enjoys a wide variety of customers, including both resort-goers and drivers and others from the nearby Road America racing course, which draws about 800,000 visitors to the community each year.

To appeal to the auto-racing set, Lake Street Café maintains an expansive wine list that has been recognized by the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence since 2003 under the direction of co-owner John Shovan.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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