Union House in Genesee Depot remains a fine dining gem
GENESEE DEPOT — Heidi and Jim Lindenberg went to the Union House in Genesee Depot for date night often during their courtship. It seemed like fate when the opportunity came up to purchase the historic building. Jim Lindenberg is an entrepreneur and philanthropist in the area. In February 2020 they bought it — one month before everything shut down due to the pandemic.
Heidi and Jim Lindenberg are proud of their staff, some of whom have been with the restaurant for 20-30 years. They retained their crew during the pandemic and had no turnover.
“That is unheard of in today’s day and age, especially in the restaurant industry,” Heidi said.
The pandemic was a scary experience for everyone, the Lindenbergs said.
“It was scary. We were all scared of COVID and didn’t know what exactly that was. It was a blessing for us, to look at it as a glass half full,” Jim Lindenberg said. After decades of owning the Union House, owners Curt and Patty Robinson retired and the Lindenbergs bought the business at S42-W31320 Highway 83. During the pandemic, their two months of shutdown was spent focusing on refreshing the look of the restaurant.
“They (the Robinsons) owned the restaurant for 30 years. When you own a restaurant it is hard to fix things up and you never want to shut down a restaurant completely. It is a tough industry to be in,” Jim said.
They hired a company to fix up the place with painting, carpeting, new tables, counters and booths, a new kitchen and a room upstairs that had never been used. The room holds 50 people and it’s now used as a VIP room, which is great for company outings, wedding rehearsals, weddings and other events. It is useful during the weekends when the restaurant is a packed house and it needs to seat more people.
“It’s still a cozy and fine dining restaurant with jazz music and it always was,” Jim said.
In 1861 the Union House Hotel opened. The hotel was a popular gathering spot for both locals and visitors. Due to requests for dining, The Union House kitchen opened shortly after. Broadway actors Lynn Fontanne and Alfred Lunt, who had a home in Genesee Depot, used to frequent the restaurant for fine dining.
The previous Union House owners were very successful for 30 years and it always known as one of the top 10 restaurants in Southeastern Wisconsin, according to Jim.
“We didn’t want to change it up too much. They were known as fine dining but the speciality was wild game meat and wild game fish,” he said.
Patrons knew from experience to go to the restaurant for octopus, shark, and kangaroo. Heidi Lindenberg added it was very popular.
“Every couple of weeks is a cool unusual wild game and seafood. We recently had a fish no one has heard of like corvina,” Heidi said.
Other specialities include swordfish and this week is a sausage-stuffed calamari.
Heidi said the hidden gem is the talented chefs in the kitchen.
“The chefs are amazing with what they come up with,” she said.
The regular menu offers pork chops, duck, steak, seafood and other dishes, appetizers and desserts and top-notch wine selections and scotches.
For more information visit https://www.theunionhouse.com/.
In 1861 the Union House Hotel opened and was a popular gathering spot for both locals and visitors. Due to requests for dining, the Union House kitchen opened shortly thereafter.
Courtesy of Heidi and Jim Lindenberg
Heidi and Jim Lindenberg (pictured) own the Union House, S42-W31320 Highway 83, in Genesee Depot.