Flambeau Forest Inn - Toni and Perry Slack
Years in Business: since 1950s
Number of employees: family-owned business, three full-time staff
“Our mission is to awaken the outdoors person in everyone and provide a place where you can guarantee the atmosphere and service will make you feel welcome every time you enter our doors.”
Flambeau Forest Inn:
Nestled in the Flambeau State Forest between Connor's Lake and Lake of the Pines, the Flambeau Forest Inn is an outdoors person's paradise. Flambeau Forest Inn operates a small restaurant (60 seats), bar (25 seats), and hotel (6 rooms). It is one of the few true "Northwoods" bars that are left.
Why start this business:
Perry and Toni met in Milwaukee. Both had owned their own businesses in the past. Perry was in construction and Toni in cosmetology. After a few years in Wausau, Wis., Perry and Toni decided they wanted to run their own business together. Instead of starting another business from scratch, they decided to purchase the existing Flambeau Forest Inn in 2013. They were excited to pursue their passion by owning a treasured piece of the Northwoods.
Manpower is the biggest challenge. Toni takes care of the bar as well as marketing and operations. Perry works in the kitchen and manages maintenance. The goal to deliver excellent customer service requires long hours and lots of work. During the busy season, they may put in 12-hour days.
It brings them great joy to see their customers happy, well-fed, and enjoy the rich outdoors. They have built good relationships with local, regular customers and out-of-town visitors. "I like the challenge. I like the adventure," Perry says.
Successful marketing promotion to attract new customers:
In a small "Up North" town, Flambeau Forest Inn is visited frequently by local residents and seasonal outdoor travelers.
- Partnerships – MarquipWardUnited is a big corporation located in the nearby town, Phillips. They often take their international employees to Flambeau Forest Inn for the unique local experience.
- Advertising – Flambeau advertises on the ATV map and local radio stations.
- Events – Toni and Perry host large events six times a year and three to four smaller events throughout the month. Last year, they added a Burger of the Month to the menu, which became very popular, and they are now pairing it with a Wisconsin Beer of the Month.
- Events are promoted on their website and social media (i.e. Facebook).
- They also use table flyers to promote events in their dining room.
What differentiates Flambeau Forest Inn:
- Friendly customer service – Both Toni and Perry work very hard and make themselves available to customers. They have a very stable staff and being in a small "Up North" town, the staff knows most of the customers by name. They also try to greet everyone who is new to the area and always thank them for their visit.
- Broad offering of products and services – A combination of restaurant, bar, and hotel – one of the few true "Northwoods" bars.
- A full menu – Few places in this area serve a full menu. Hearty portions for a reasonable price, and drink prices that are competitive.
- Great atmosphere – Features both inside and outdoor dining.
- Comfortable hotel rooms – Starting at $50 flat rate per night, affordable rooms to rent for fishers and hunters in an area with few accommodations. Free dog facilities for guests.