A place close to the heart

The Hummingbird House features one queen bed, two lofted twin beds and pullout sofa. Joe Schulz photo

by Joe Schulz

Bayview Landing Ice Cream Parlor has always had a special place in Loni and Ryan Meiborg’s hearts. 

Before they were married, they’d come to Green Lake from Illinois each summer and often went on dates to the ice cream parlor. 

When they got engaged at Bayview Landing Ice Cream Parlor, they never imagined that years later they’d own the property and convert it to a vacation rental home. 

“We’ve always had an appreciation for this little spot,” Loni said.

The ice cream parlor closed for the season last fall, and this spring Ryan and Loni learned the property was for sale, which is when they began talking about purchasing it.

But because Ryan and Loni both have full-time jobs, they didn’t know if they’d have time to run an ice cream shop. 

Then, a light bulb went off. They decided to purchase the property and convert it into a vacation rental because they believed there were enough ice cream options downtown between Little Corporal and North Bay Sport & Liquor.

In April, they purchased the property and began working to convert it into the Hummingbird House, a 600-square foot vacation home in the heart of downtown Green Lake. 

The Hummingbird House opened for rentals Saturday, July 11. The home features one queen bed, two lofted twin beds and pullout sofa, as well as a kitchen complete with electric range, fridge, coffee maker, toaster, blender and kitchenware. 

 Beyond the indoor amenities, renters will be treated to an outdoor fire pit adjoining Deacon Mills Park, along with a gas grill, firewood and two fishing poles.

Since purchasing the property, Loni noted the biggest difficulty has been letting people down when they stop by for ice cream. 

“We get people regularly coming here for ice cream and we have to explain that it has a new life as a vacation rental,” she said. “Overall, everyone’s been supportive, but just kind of shocked because it’s been an ice cream parlor for 30 years. We hope that we can breathe new life into it and have another 30 years.”

When converting the building, Loni noted no walls had to be removed, but the entire black and red checkerboard floor needed to be replaced and the kitchen needed to be reconfigured. 

Contractors were hired to install the plumbing, electric and cabinets, while family and friends helped repaint the walls as well as remove and replace the flooring.

Their sons, Blake and Caleb, were responsible for helping Ryan landscape outside, while Loni was responsible for creating a vision for the interior. 

Loni noted working with family and friends to renovate the building was a “welcome distraction” from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Meiborgs were assisted in renovating the property by a slew of family and friends, who helped repaint the walls as well as remove and replace the flooring. submitted photo

“We got so much love and support from our friends and family; to see 12 people laying a floor in one day was really special,” she said. “This took a village … we are blessed to have those people in our lives.”

A few weeks ago, Loni and Ryan invited friends from Chicago to spend a weekend in the newly renovated Hummingbird House and provide a critique of their visit afterward. 

“They found a couple of good items that they let us know about, and we’re ready to rent … We’re booked through August,” Loni said. “I think it’s a testament to what’s happening in Green Lake right now, as far as people coming here and wanting to be by the lake. Even without the Heidel House, I think there’s still room for more lodging.”

Loni and Ryan are no strangers to the lodging and tourism industry. 

Loni previously served as the marketing manager for the Heidel House and executive director for the Green Lake Area Chamber of Commerce. She currently serves as senior vice president of marketing at Fortifi Bank. 

Meanwhile, Ryan previously was a manager at the Heidel House and currently is the general manager for Shoreline Boat Center. He also has a bachelor’s degree in recreational tourism from Illinois State University.

“Since the Heidel House closed, we wanted to make a space for family to come and still enjoy the lake, and the proximity [from Hummingbird House] is really nice,” Loni said.

Loni and Ryan hope Hummingbird House becomes a place where families can build lasting memories summer after summer.

“We hope people fall in love with this space,” Loni said. “We’re both hospitable people who like to host people and families, so I think this is just kind of an extension of our passions.”