New owners bring fresh flavor to downtown eatery
Vicki and Bill Davis of Merrill have taken over as the new owners of The Checkered Churn on East Main Street. The couple purchased the business from Kitty and Gary Gartmann on April 27 and the restaurant never missed a service during the transition.
A Merrill native, Vicki brings 17 years of experience as a chef and general manager at The Plaza in Wausau.
“I’ve worked under some great chefs,” she said. “I’ve always had a love of cooking.”
The couple had their eye on The Checkered Churn before they ever knew it was for sale. When they got word that the Gartmann’s were looking to sell, Vicki jumped on the opportunity to own her own restaurant in her hometown.
“I always thought I would like to be a co-owner or part of a restaurant,” she said. “I thought it was very quaint, I liked the location and the building has character.”
Living in Merrill all along, Vicki was also looking for a chance to be part of the Merrill community.
At The Plaza, Vicki was used to running banquets for 400-500 people.
“This is different,” she said of her new business venture.
Vicki and Bill are in the process of transitioning the decor and the menu. Showing her Italian heritage, Vicki is adding more Italian-influenced items to the menu. Vicki and Bill grow all their own herbs and make homemade sauce.
“Our concept is farm to table,” Vicki said. “We’ve always done it ourselves.”
Starting June 1, The Checkered Churn will be open in the evenings with Italian dishes on the dinner menu. Bill has developed the restaurant’s new homemade pizzas which will also debut on June 1. He’s spent months working on perfecting his crust and is excited about the new stone pizza oven that will be arriving soon.
The Checkered Churn has a beer and wine license and a new bar will be installed shortly. Outdoor seating will also be available during the summer.
With freshening up the menu and adding dinner hours, Vicki and Bill are looking to give Merrill another exciting dining option close to home.
“We’re looking to get more of the community to get in here and show them what we can do,” Vicki said. “We’re hoping that Merrill welcomes it.”
The Checkered Churn has seven employees and that could expand in the future, Vicki noted.
The Checkered Churn is currently open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m.-noon on Saturday. Starting June 1, those hours will expand to 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Carryouts and delivery are available during the lunch hours from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
The Checkered Churn can be reached at 715-539-8911.