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New owners bring Wisconsin Rapids staple back to life

‘We want to be the place to be’

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July 8, 2024

WISCONSIN RAPIDS – You would be hard-pressed to find someone in the Wisconsin Rapids area who has not heard of Hotel Mead.

Lucky Richardson, the hotel’s current general manager, said in its 73 years of business, Hotel Mead stood as a foundational building (located at 451 E. Grand Ave.) in the area’s history.

“(The hotel) was iconic,” she said.

In those same years, Lucky said the lodging establishment has seen several changes in ownership.

“The previous ownership and management was from Michigan,” she said. “Because of the (distance), it was hard for them to focus on this area… so they decided to sell the property.”

In recent years, under the previous ownership, Lucky said the hotel’s restaurant closed down, and its long-standing event, Tunes on the Terrace, also ceased to exist.

She said the new owner – Sean Patel, who took over operations in March – aims to change that – hiring a new food and beverage manager and a new events manager.

Lucky said the leadership team at the re-named Hotel Mead Resorts and Conventions Centers is working to revitalize a Wisconsin Rapids staple.

Changes, renovations

First things first – with new ownership, Lucky said, came a new logo and name.

“We changed the name to Hotel Mead Resorts and Conventions Centers,” she said. “We recently put up the new sign.”

Changes to the exterior, Lucky said, are the first of many changes Patel has planned as part of his three-year renovation schedule – with the installation of new landscaping and LED lighting in the parking lot already taking place.

Since the change of ownership, Kelly Richardson said the hotel brought back Tunes on the Terrace and plans to start offering other events in the future. Photo Courtesy of Hotel Mead Resorts & Conventions Centers

“They’re cutting out trees to make us more visible and planting gardens,” Kelly Richardson, events manager for Hotel Mead, said. “It’s a heck of a transformation.”

Kelly said new Hotel Mead signs in the entrance areas have also been installed.

“And, throughout the main floor by the lobby, (there are now) changing color LED lights in the ceiling tiles,” she said.

Lucky said the hotel also added two massage chairs in the lobby for guests to use during their stay.

“(Those are) a hit right now,” she said. “People are loving them, and they’re never not using them. They’re always running.”

An updated POS (point of sale) system, called Toast, Lucky said has also been introduced.

“We are training a lot of people on Toast… to make sure we (offer) proper service,” she said. “We want to make sure we’re on a higher level of service.”

By the end of the year, she said the hotel plans to renovate the front desk to give it a new, modern feel.

Year two improvements guests can look forward to, Lucky said, are new carpets, furniture in the rooms, TVs and lighting.

Year three will include a new coat of paint and lighting in the hallways.

The Whitney

Adam Serianni, Hotel Mead’s new food and beverage manager, said the restaurant inside the resort has gone through a few different names, the most recognizable being Cafe Mulino.

“Everybody knows the name Mead followed by Cafe Mulino – so we’ve been striving to give the people what they want, which is a blast from the past,” he said. 

Cafe Mulino served Italian cuisine, which he said inspired the food and beverage team to bring the restaurant – now known as The Whitney – back to its roots.

The menu, Lucky said, is meant to have more of an upscale feel.

Some dishes customers can expect to see on the menu, Serianni said, include fettuccine alfredo, fried ravioli, rigatoni bolognese and chicken piccata.

“For steaks, we’ve got filet mignon, New York strip and a grilled rib eye,” he said. 

Those looking to enjoy a treat after dinner, Serianni said, can order classic Italian desserts as well, such as tiramisu, cannolis and gelato.

The Whitney, Adam Serianni said, pays homage to the hotel’s former restaurant – Cafe Mulino – with its Italian cuisine. Photo Courtesy of Hotel Mead Resorts & Conventions Centers

“We also have daily specials,” Lucky said. “We have a Friday fish fry – that’s a big hit.”

A new amenity, Lucky said, is the hotel’s continental breakfast now included in each guest’s stay.

Another reprisal at the restaurant, Serianni said, is lunch offerings.

“We haven’t been open for lunch for a long time,” he said. “That was one of the largest requests from the public.”

Guests are now able to order online as well.

“It’s a good thing to have in the restaurant,” Lucky said.

Coupled with a new menu and ordering options, Lucky said, came new decor.

“We… put more decorations and designs in The Whitney, where it has more of an Italian ambiance or environment,” she said. “We changed the lighting – we’re changing a lot yet – we will put a fireplace (in)… and we also plan on Friday or Saturday, to have elegant music.”

Events, utilizing the space

Partly because of the previous ownership – and the COVID-19 pandemic – Kelly said events died down at Hotel Mead over recent years – something Patel plans to change.

Up first, Kelly said, is the reintroduction of Tunes on the Terrace – a Friday-night event held outside at the hotel’s tiki bar – “where all the townspeople would come after work.”

“I found out (Wisconsin) Rapids loves music, and they love being outside and having fun,” Lucky said. 

To add more flare to the event – and the outside of the building – Kelly said the hotel added hanging lights in the gazebo “and made it festive.”

Bringing music back to Hotel Mead, he said, doesn’t stop there. 

“(The previous owners) didn’t utilize all the conference halls, the banquet halls or the grand ballroom…,” he said. “We want to start renting our halls out for bands and musicians to come and have ticketed events.”

Tribute bands, Lucky said, are increasingly popular among Wisconsin Rapids residents, and she said the hotel plans to have a live, ticketed performance one Saturday a month.

Other events the hotel plans to introduce in the future, Kelly said, include burlesque, drag and comedy shows.

“(Sean) has a wide range of (ideas for) entertainment, which he’s (game to bring) in and see how many people are into each of those types of scenarios,” he said. “If it draws a big crowd, then we’re going to have more of it.”

Many of the halls, Kelly said, are also great for conferences and other work events.

In March of this year, Sean Patel took over ownership of Hotel Mead and created a three-year plan for improvements to the hotel. Photo Courtesy of Hotel Mead Resorts & Conventions Centers

“We even have a big board room,” he said.

Lucky and Kelly said the hotel is also hosting weddings again – “(we) have a lot on the docket.”

“They didn’t have any (weddings) last year,” Kelly said. “Now, we have a lot for September, October and some summer weddings. They’re coming back, and I think it’s because they’re hearing about the renovations and the renewing of Hotel Mead.”


Many of these changes, Lucky said, are meant to reflect the “resorts” portion in the hotel’s new name.

Revitalizing the hotel’s restaurant, adding new events and making updates to the space – such as adding hallway music – she said, are all meant to give a resort feel. 

“We’re planning to have a free movie theater, a small one, and next to it will be a cafeteria,” she said. “We’re planning (for) one of the offices to be turned into a nail salon.”

Though having the option to watch a free film or get your nails painted may sound unheard of at other hotels, Lucky said, “you’re in a resort… everything should be there.”

“It’s like a boutique hotel we’re trying to improve,” she said.

Next steps

Though the community response to the recent renovations has been nothing but excitement and support, Lucky said work at Hotel Mead is not done yet.

On top of Patel’s three-year plan for hotel updates, she said adding room service for guests is also in the works. 

Serianni said plans also include adding a volleyball court and horseshoe pits for the community to use – “so we can accommodate the volleyball league.”

“We want to be the place (to be) in (Wisconsin) Rapids,” he said. “We’re (also) scheduled to have pool tournaments next year and some dart teams, too.”

More community involvement, Serianni said, is also a goal the Hotel Mead team is working toward.

“We have been trying to give back,” he said. “We’ve participated in a few golf outings and supplied our own raffle baskets – stuff like that.”

To keep up to date on the hotel’s happenings, visit its Facebook page.

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