Hogs and Kisses, a popular restaurant and dance bar in downtown Lake Geneva plans to remain closed until late June, according to its owner. (Mike Ramczyk photo)

Hogs & Kisses choosing to stay closed in face of bustling tourists

By Mike Ramczyk

Correspondent

It’s a Saturday night in the summer.

Deejay Kevin Wieters is bumping “I Gotta Feeling,” a Black Eyed Peas dance party anthem, up in a corner booth overlooking the dance floor.

The hardwood floor dance area, which probably measures about 15 by 10 feet, is cozy and intimate, filled to the brim with people of all ages, including bachelorette parties, wedding after-party goers, old, young and everything in between.

Then there’s the electric, oval-shaped bar, located only a couple steps from the dance floor, full of patrons having a cold one after a long week of work, mingling and enjoying life.

About seven wooden tables are on the south end of the bar, and two more sitting areas hold four tables each on the north and south sides of the dance area.

A rowdy crowd dances the night away, sometimes with reckless abandon.

The scene is set at Hogs & Kisses, one of Lake Geneva’s most popular bars, and on a busy night, you’re talking a good 100 folks-plus, in close proximity, which can resemble a mosh pit of fun, freedom and laughter.

So one can imagine how fears of coronavirus and goals of social distancing may be impossible.

Outside, Hogs has a picturesque view of the Riviera and Geneva Lake. It sits on the south end of the town’s bustling summer nightlife, and Illinois tourists flood the bar all weekend long.

On a big night, you’ll see the place packed from 9 p.m. until closing at 2 a.m.

Better safe than sorry

For these reasons, owner Linda Chironis is staying closed for a few more weeks, possibly until the end of June.

There are simply too many people to deal with, and social distancing really isn’t an option.

“We were intending to jump back in later than sooner all along,” she said Monday. “Our bar is small and cozy. Not great attributes when dealing with a virus. Without outdoor seating, which we have tried in the past, it just seemed prudent to wait.”

“When the court overturned Evers’ stay-at-home, things got a little crazy in town but as Illinois has began to open up and Wisconsin positivity rates are going down, we are feeling more comfortable that we can provide a safe environment for our staff and our guests.”

At any given time, there can be four bartenders serving drinks, surrounded by as many as 50 people.

A few bouncers guard the Broad Street entrance, and a few more regulate the bar’s alley entrance, located on the south side of the building.

At the same time, waitresses are making the rounds to the bar’s 15 tables to refill drinks and food.

It’s an extremely busy, crowded atmosphere at times, and sometimes a person has to inch through the crowd like a turtle.

Weekends are jam-packed with tourists and locals, who at times must let a line of people through before they can even muster one step toward the bathroom.

Locals support decision

Chironis is still optimistic, though, that Hogs & Kisses will open soon.

“We are still holding off a few weeks, but we will get there,” she said.

Community support has been positive toward Hogs’ bold move.

While other local Lake Geneva businesses are requiring masks, pretty much every bar is open, including the most popular ones like Champ’s, Thumbs Up and Fat Cat’s.

“We are choosing to stay closed because we love our customers and staff,” said a status on the Hogs and Kisses Facebook page.

“We will be finishing up our deep cleaning and working with staff onsite to assure we are addressing all matters to keep everyone safe.”

Fans of the bar responded with support.

“LOVE this choice,” said Alex Bidner. “Thank you for protecting those that think they don’t need said protection.”

Mary Rahn hopes Hogs can inspire other neighborhood businesses to stay closed.

“Thank you,” she said. “I hope your neighbors follow your example.”

With Lake Geneva making national headlines for overcrowding and tourists refusing to practice social distancing guidelines or wear masks, Hogs & Kisses has emerged as a leader in a community effort to promote safety amid coronavirus.

 
 

1 Comment

  1. Julie Luepkes-Herrick says:

    I totally understand and respect the decision from Linda! A SHOUT out to you my Lady! Hog’s has always been a special “safe-place” since I worked there in the ‘80’s. Jerry Ordman had taken me under his wing, and hired me when I was 18. Back then that was legal age to drink. He always looked out for the safety of his staff. Glad I was included! Regardless… Here’s another fine example of the upper standards of Hogs and Kisses! Right on!! Oh and where’s Jerry?

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