Castle Hill Supper Club
The Early Years
In the early 1940’s, Harry Lowe purchased an old farm house off Highway 12 and turned it into a bar and meeting establishment that would eventually become Castle Hill Supper Club. Harry named it “Castle Hill” after the hill that was located behind the property.
Harry started out small; folks would gather to visit and enjoy a cold beverage. He later started serving sandwiches and slowly the business began to grow. Back then, Highway 12 was the main artery to get to Northern Wisconsin, as Interstate 94 hadn’t been built yet. Since Highway 12 was such a busy roadway, seven cabins were built to accommodate the travelers. Soon a motel was also added.
A Supper Club is Born
In 1952 Harold Johnson purchased Castle Hill. Harold continued the business Harry Lowe had started. Harold soon found love and married Gert and soon she took over the cooking at Castle Hill. With Gert’s incredible knowledge of the kitchen she quickly added items to the menu and turned Castle Hill from a bar into a traditional Wisconsin Supper Club!
For the next 21 years, the Johnson family would carry on the tradition Castle Hill is known for – serving the finest Steaks and Seafood in Jackson County. Harold and Gert retired in 1973 and sold the business to Tom Thompson and Dick Imig. Tom and Dick would stay on for three years.
Meet the Hensel’s
In 1976 Bud and Carolyne Hensel of Milwaukee wanted to move out of the big city. Bud, born and raised a city boy, loved the lakes and woods of Jackson County, learning about the area from Carolyne, who was raised there. Since the beginning of their marriage, the Hensel family had spent a lot of time in Merrillan, visiting Carolyne’s family and enjoying the recreational activities the community had to offer. When Bud found out Castle Hill was for sale, he was able to realize his life-long dream of owning his own restaurant and moving to the area he had learned to love so much.
Bud and Carolyne and their three younger children – Jodi, Michael, and Brent were about to embark on an entirely new experience. Oldest Son Jeff, and his new wife, Laurie, were also invited to join the adventure.
Learning the restaurant business
Without previous restaurant experience, the Hensel family spent long hours learning the business from the ground up, with the help from family and many of the dedicated long-time staff at Castle Hill. In those early days, it wasn’t unusual to see the entire Hensel clan, even the younger kids, all wearing white aprons and working in the kitchen peeling potatoes, stocking coolers and washing dishes.
For the next 14 years the Hensel family would carry on the tradition of serving the finest steaks and seafood in Jackson County. Many changes would occur along the way including the sudden and unexpected passing of Bud in 1990.
But the business would continue on, Carolyne could often be found behind the bar or working as hostess, while Jeff had become an expert in the kitchen. Laurie would often be working as a waitress or bartender. And after graduating college, Michael decided to join the family business as well. One could even find Jodi or Brent helping out on a busy Saturday night or during Easter or Mother Day’s Buffet events.
The business grows
In 1994, Carolyne, Jeff and Michael decided it was time to expand the business and add 5400 square foot banquet room to the existing Supper Club. The new space allowed the Hensel’s to add their “Grand” Seafood Buffet on Friday Nights, and it also provided the community with a large space for Weddings, Anniversaries, Christmas Parties, and other social events.
All in the Family
The success of Castle Hill is not just because of the outstanding food and great service. The success comes from the dedication and perseverance of the Hensel Family, which started with Bud’s dream but has evolved over time to include the vision of Jeff and Michael. Bud’s motto that “the customer is always King” is as evident today as it was back in the 1940’s.
For the past 44 years, on any given night, there is at least one Hensel working at the Supper Club. Today that tradition even includes Bud and Carolyne’s grandchildren.
A Note of Thanks
The Hensel Family is proud to be Jackson County’s Premier Steak and Seafood House for the past 44 years. We want to thank all of our loyal customers for your patronage and we look forward to serving you in the future!