Taking a bite out of Green Lake’s appetite

John Maczuzak has redecorated the upstairs interior with his old beer can collection from fourth through eighth grade.

by Joe Schulz

When ThunderBoss Bar & Grill announced it was closing back in November, few knew what — if anything — would take its place.

Then in March, the eatery announced via Facebook that it would reopen this summer operated by a new general manager and under a new name.

John Maczuzak, the new general manager, is working to resurrect the restaurant under the name “Big John’s Shark Shack,” renovating the interior and revamping the menu. Lori Csaszar and Chris Barbin, who ran ThunderBoss Bar & Grill, remain the property’s owners.

Maczuzak hopes to open the business around Memorial Day weekend for carryout service.

After Csaszar and Barbin announced they were closing ThunderBoss, Maczuzak approached them with a business proposition.

He wants the restaurant to be a place where folks can make a quick pit stop to grab a sandwich or a cold one before getting back on the lake.

The revamped menu will be similar to one of Maczuzak’s previous businesses, Sharkz Brewz ’n Bitez.

“Three years in a row, we had the best burger in Green Lake,” Maczuzak said. “We’re proud of that, so we’ll be bringing back that burger.”

Besides restoring one of Green Lake’s finest delicacies, he says the menu also will include gyros, hot dogs, subs, fried fish, salads, wraps and a variety of appetizers.

Maczuzak also has renovated the kitchen and redecorated the upstairs bar and dining area with his collection of beer cans, acquired when he was in fourth through eighth grade.

While the upstairs will operate as a traditional bar and restaurant, Maczuzak noted the downstairs will serve as a sub and ice cream shack, offering subs, ice cream, popcorn, string cheese and a variety of other “grab and go” snacks.

Additionally, the restaurant will have tables and chairs outside for those who want to eat next to the lake.

Growing up, Maczuzak always had an interest in starting his own restaurant. When he initially came to Wisconsin at the age of 20, he worked in the grocery business until an opportunity to open his own eatery presented itself.

But, nowadays, he’s no stranger to the restaurant scene, as he previously ran Sharkz Brewz ’n Bitez in Green Lake and Zuzaks in Ripon.

However, this is the first time he’s had to deal with trying to open a restaurant amid a pandemic.

He says not knowing when the statewide ban on dine-in service will be lifted has been the biggest impediment to opening the business.

“We’re excited about doing carryout, and getting our crew trained and ready, but we’d like to be back to normal and we don’t know when that’s going to be,” Maczuzak said. “I think people want to get out, but it’s on God’s time and it’ll happen when it happens.”

Right now, he’s trying to focus on things he can control, such as renovating the building, cleaning, developing a menu and assembling a staff.

He says the crew at Big John’s Shark Shack will combine former employees from ThunderBoss and Sharkz Brewz ’n Bitez.

For Maczuzak, the most gratifying thing about running a restaurant is building relationships with employees and seeing them grow as they learn new things.

“We had one person that was a busser and then a dishwasher, then host, then a line cook, and then became the lead,” he said. “The rewarding thing is just seeing everybody grow.”

The business’ hours are not set in stone yet, but Maczuzak noted a schedule will be released soon.

“This is a great location, in a great city,” he said. “So it’s good to see familiar faces along with new faces that we acquire and build relationships with.”

Maczuzak hopes to build Big John’s Shark Shack into a business that will stand the test of time, and a place where families can create lasting memories.

“With this opportunity, I think we’ll be here for years to come,” he said. “Our No. 1 goal is to make sure that customers leave with a great experience.”