Northwoods Newcomer:

Chef Erin Lege and Abby Geisler

The Turn: Abby Geisler’s restaurant dream come true

by Larry Werner

I’ve always thought it would be fun to own a restaurant, and about 20 years ago, I figured I might have a chance. My wife and her siblings turned their family farm into a golf course, and I suggested we open a café in the clubhouse.
I was out voted. So I stuck to newspapers, but did do catering out of the golf-course kitchen for several years.
Abby Geisler also dreamed of being a restaurateur, and she wanted to do her business in Cumberland, the town she visited often when she was a kid, where she owns a small cabin on Beaver Dam Lake, the place where her mother was raised on a farm south of St. Anthony’s Catholic Church, the town where her sister and cousins live.
This week, she’s fulfilling that dream by opening “The Turn” – a new restaurant at the Cumberland Golf Club.
It will be open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Actually, this won’t be her first shot at serving Cumberland diners: She managed The Tower House for a while after Lance and Julie Burma reopened it a few years ago. She left before the Burmas closed the place last July and returned to St. Paul, Minn., where she’s a bookkeeper and minority owner of  a restaurant called Dixie’s on Grand.
But Dixie’s isn’t in Cumberland. So she made a proposal to the golf-course board that she lease the kitchen and dining room and open her own place. She’ll pay a percentage of her sales to the golf course as rent. In recent years, the golf course has had very limited food service – a fish fry on Fridays, burgers and hot dogs on a grill outside.
She presented the idea of leasing the kitchen and dining room to Tony Diehl, the golf course manager who left for another job a few weeks ago. Tony and Abby agreed there is “so much potential in this kitchen.”
She said: “I just knew with my background I could make something work out of that kitchen, and offer something to eat for the golfers.”
The menu is sandwiches, soup and salads, and there will be dinner specials. She brought a chef with her from St. Paul. Erin Lege, a Louisiana native who worked with Abby at Dixie’s for several years, is helping her get things going. But he’ll probably stay for the summer, having been bitten by the Cumberland bug.
“I’m from a community of 500 people,” Erin said. “Cumberland reminded me of where I was from – small town, very intertwined, very soulful.”
He left the St. Paul restaurant to do something else. And, for now, the something else is helping his friend, Abby, get her restaurant up and running. He’ll continue the Friday fish, but with his special batter, and Saturday will be rib night. Erin might share his southern culture with us by offering catfish and jambalaya occasionally.
Abby’s sister, Cheryl Ortquist, will work with her. In fact, Abby has named the business “Two Sisters Catering.” The restaurant will be called “The Turn” because it’s at the turn from the ninth hole to the tenth.
She knows the restaurant business is risky. But she feels good about doing it.
“I’m very much at peace with this decision,” she said while taking a break from prepping for the May 16 opening. “I love it here because I have a lot of family history here, and it’s a beautiful area that’s fairly undiscovered. My sister and I are very close. My kids are grown and onto their own lives, and it just feels like home to me.”
And she’ll be able to take a boat to work from her cabin on the other side of the lake. You can’t do that in St. Paul.
Larry Werner’s email is




Cumberland Advocate

375 2nd Ave, PO Box 637
Cumberland, WI 54829
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