By Craig Marx, Editor
If you are looking for a reason to celebrate a good time in Antigo without any particular reason to do so, you should consider checking out Celebrations Food & Drink just south of town, directly on Highway 45.
Owner Ann Richardson has been in the service industry for years, working in the back of the house, waitressing, and bartending. With the experience of knowing how a restaurant operates, Richardson said eventually owning one was something that she had always wanted to do.
Richardson, along with her business partner and husband, Jesse, had scoped out nearly 60 other properties this last year before deciding on the current location, an establishment that was once home to Cheers, Rookies, Beer’eze, and Racks to name a few. After purchasing the building, Richardson went to work on designing a concept and a menu.
“I wanted a casual, fun environment. Higher end dining without being snobby – the kind of place you would feel comfortable coming to either dressed up or just in your work clothes,” Richardson said. “I’ve encountered and experienced a lot of things traveling and I wanted to bring those experiences back with me here and break the mold.”
By offering traditional entrees and lunch items with exciting new sides and appetizers, Richardson and Celebrations have found a way to spice up Antigo’s dining and nightlife. By being open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to midnight, the restaurant looks to cater to everyone from service industry employees to hungry weekend tourists.
The steaks are of more than adequate size, featuring a 22 oz. porterhouse and a 14 oz. rib eye just to name a few of the selections. In keeping with Northern Wisconsin tradition, Celebrations also offers Friday night fish fry, Saturday evening prime rib, and Sunday chicken specials.
Richardson recommended the lobster bites from the menu – chunks of lobster tail that are breaded and deep fried while served with melted butter. To help liven up old-fashioned fish fry side dishes, the Friday night special is served with apple vinaigrette coleslaw.
The new restaurateur and her chef designed their menu around what was needed in Antigo – a casual, fine dining establishment with a fun, after-hours party atmosphere. Celebrations kitchen currently closes at 9 p.m. but a late-night bar menu is also in the works. The community is encouraged to stop by after the kitchen is closed and enjoy a cocktail or beer from the impressive selection of back bar boozes and coolers.
Celebrations would like to offer just that very concept – a celebratory atmosphere. Whether it is enjoying the end of a work week, toasting a mint julep to the winner of the Kentucky Derby, or whooping it at a toga party for the anniversary of the release of “Animal House,” Richardson’s restaurant will provide and join in the festivities for nearly any reason to have a good time.
The establishment has been quick to try and secure pool, dart, and perhaps even a dice league to help with the fun. With a game room attached, Celebrations will also focus on entertainment and other late-night options in the future once the restaurant is established.
“We want this place to be fun – to celebrate something every day,” Richardson said. “Antigo has been patient and the community really has been great. I love all the feedback we are getting. We can’t fix something if people do not say anything.”
Celebrations is located at N2497 US Hwy 45 South in Antigo, on the corner of the highway and Mapleview Rd. Contrary to popular belief and the mythos of local conception, Celebrations is not “Bob’s,” or rather the opposite of “Not Bob’s,” a tavern located across the road.