I’m grateful for the dull things in life. For the way I feel when I go to the hardware store and buy two furnace filters and a small pack of 6-32 machine threaded screws. I like the way it feels when I refill the seeds in my bird feeders. I like the way it feels when I mow my lawn, when I try my best to keep my stripes straight and my edges crisp. I like the mundane things, because like a wise man once said, life isn’t the way you feel when sitting on a beach in the Caribbean, it’s the way you feel when you have coffee with you wife in the morning. I don’t really have coffee with my wife every morning, but I know what he’s talking about. It’s the dull and mundane moments that make up our lives, and for those, I’m grateful.
But I’m also grateful for the shiny things. For the polished things. For the things that make me feel proud. I’m thankful for the moments that are special by design, for the days that things are better because they matter just a little bit more than the others. And because of this, I’m grateful for the hard work that the Gage family did to bring us what we know today to be Pier 290. Shiny things are often very, very good.
I have been a frequent critic of some food at this restaurant, but that doesn’t stand in the way of my appreciation for what this place has become. When I was a kid, any shore path walk to Williams Bay required walking through, in, and around Gage Marine. When I’d walk with my grandmother to pick mulberries from the tree on the edge of Bay Colony and Summer Haven, it was Gage Marine that we would walk past first. Gage Marine has been part of my life for the entirety of it, but the old Gage Marine is nothing at all like the new one.
Perhaps a decade ago, the great renovation and expansion of Gage Marine changed the face of the Williams Bay lakefront. The materials selected were old and new, ancient relics from boating eras well in our past. The new was shiny and the old was, too, and when these building were renovated and new buildings were built the end result was, and is, a glittering display on the west shore of Williams Bay. Cedar shingles, brass fittings, large spaces with indoor and outdoor dining, all things that this, and every market, loves. If more businesses in our area would take notice of Pier 290 and do their absolute best to copy the visual of this impressive place, we could improve this market considerably. Do you own a business in the Lake Geneva market? Make it look like Pier 290 and we’ll all win.
The other night I slowly cruised by this lakefront establishment, the blankets of exterior cedar shingles having successfully weathered to a perfect silvery gray, and I took in the lively scene of a summer evening there. Boats filled the piers, and while some owners were leaving others still were arriving. The tables were full, the lightings twinkled, and the casual hum of an evening spent lakefront flowed from the shore and into my ears. I enjoyed what I saw and heard. It was summer, the same old summer that I’ve known my whole life, but because of the Gage family and their Pier 290, it was elevated and refined. I’m grateful for this place, and for the tremendous effort by the ownership to create a space this beautiful and inspired.