Chris Barbin and Lori Csaszar stand on the brand new pier built this summer for customers. Inset, Barbin and Csaszar, pose on the deck of their recent property purchase. This building will be torn down and renovated into a rustic bar and grill restaurant called ThunderBoss. Reagan Zimmerman photo
Lori Csaszar and Chris Barbin have been renting in Green Lake for more than seven years and recently purchased their own lakefront home this past April because of how much they and their children love Green Lake life.
After recognizing one of their local favorite spots, Sharkz, closed in the fall of 2016, Csaszar and Barbin decided to start a new entrepreneurial journey together.
They plan to open the ThunderBoss Bar & Grill in Dartford Bay by 2018.
“Chris and I have often talked about opening a restaurant someday together,” Csaszar said. “Though, we always thought it would be in Chicago.”
When they aren’t in Green Lake, the pair split their time between Pittsburgh and Chicago, where their kids live and go to high school.
On Memorial Day, the couple’s plans changed course when they discovered an ideal property for a bar and grill on Green Lake.
A vacant residential property stood at the end of Bayview Court, but more importantly in a prime lakefront location in Dartford Bay.
Csaszar and Barbin knew it would be a perfect place to start up their bar and grill.
“We want to create a fun, family friendly gathering spot with easy access from town by foot, bicycle, car or boat,” Csaszar said. “A place where fishermen, locals and summer lake vacationers can grab a bite in a fun and casual atmosphere with an unmatched two-story view of Green Lake.”
The name for the gathering spot is derived from Green Lake’s history and the pair’s love for the town.
After spending an afternoon having cocktails with friends lakeside a few years ago at The Heidel House, they learned about the Winnebago Tribe settling in Green Lake from pictures and information displayed throughout the resort.
That same day their friends began referring to Barbin as Chief Highknocker — the last chief of the tribe — and to Csaszar as Susie ThunderBoss — Highknocker’s wife whose real name was “Lily Snowball” but was referred to by the tribe as “Susie Boss Thunder.”
Barbin and Csaszar believe the name ThunderBoss holds solid historic ties to the area, is a word that reflects strength and is a reminder of good times they’ve had at the lake.
Both owners have business-management experience, but have not worked in the restaurant industry.
Barbin is a entrepreneur in technology as well as a partner in a new craft brewery that recently opened in Nashville, while Csaszar stepped out of her own career in technology to support their family these last few years.
The restaurant is slated to open June of 2018.
“We are targeting to be open all-year round with limited days open during October through May,” Csaszar said.
Hours have not yet been set, but the duo plans to be open for lunch and dinner during the week and late breakfast, lunch and dinner on the weekends.
The building currently standing will be torn down and rebuilt to resemble an open air post and timber barn.
Barbin said the footprint of the building will stay the same, but the elevation will raise to 35 feet, creating two levels with a large screened in porch facing the lake.
“Our most defining architectural feature will be the cupola,” Barbin said. “It is going to be barn-style and at the top of the building [the cupola will be] open on all four sides and will appear like a lighthouse from the lake when entering Dartford Bay.”
The food options aren’t solidified yet, but Csaszar knows what they are focusing on.
“The menu is in progress and is going to be very affordable,” Csaszar said. “We are targeting anywhere between a $5 and 15 price point for all appetizers, salads, sandwiches and entrees.”
The pair also are planning on having on-water parking but it will be limited.
“[There will be] available parking for four to five boats on our pier and two waverunner spots [at the end of our pier],” Barbin said.
To expand boat parking, it has a plan to donate a portion of the public wharf, extending the existing boardwalk to the front of ThunderBoss.
“People will be able to park in the public wharf or [by car] in the park and walk here,” Barbin said.
From the restaurant’s new pier, breakfast, lunch and dinner will be available for pickup or delivery by water via a Sea-Doo waverunner.
Aside from the waverunner, Barbin is personally excited to engage some of the local fishermen for fish frys.
“[We plan on having] an outdoor grill and have the local catch of the day on it,” Barbin said.
He hopes the restaurant will cement their family’s future in Green Lake for decades to come.
“I believe there will be a certain amount of jobs it will bring, but more importantly, it will create an environment for not just visitors from Illinois and beyond but [local] residents as well,” Barbin said. “We are also looking to source a lot of the product from local providers.”
The duo also hopes the business will become a destination that will bring visitors and residents into the city to grow its numbers and reverse the recent dip in the economic development of the area.
Further meetings with the city are set for Sept. 25 and another in October with the Plan Commission and mayor of Green Lake for final approval of the proposed plans.
For more information, visit ThunderBoss Bar & Grill’s Facebook page or go to www.thunderboss.com.