For a place that’s full of family-friendly attractions, perhaps it’s fitting that the Kenosha Area is also home to many businesses that have stood the test of time, while keeping it all in the family. Let’s take a look at just a few of the family-owned establishments in the Kenosha Area.
Setting up shop in 1890, Henry W. DeBerge began a legacy lasting well over 100 years. Today, DeBerge’s Framing and Gallery is a fourth-generation owned business that has become Kenosha’s premiere art and frame shop. Granddaughters Barb DeBerge-Henken and Kim DeBerge run the show and have over two decades of experience. Together they expertly handle all your framing needs, from your fine art and cherished heirlooms to your child’s latest masterpiece.
House of Gerhard, at 3927 75th Street, has been a family-owned business since it opened in 1964. Continuing the tradition begun by Gerhard and Ruth Dillner are their daughter and son-in-law Angie and Dick Rudin and their children Sabine and Kyle. Gerhard came to this country from his native Germany in 1954. Authentic German cuisine and American favorites are served in an atmosphere filled with old world charm. If it's a taste of Deutschland you seek, you needn't fly to Bavaria! The restaurant has been awarded the Wisconsin Restaurateur of the Year honor many times.
Founded in October of 1947, Mars’ Cheese Castle is “quintessentially the stop for everybody that comes to Wisconsin,” says Tyson Wehrmesiter, the general manager and buyer. Tyson’s grandparents Martha and Mario Ventura started the business, which has been family owned and operated all of these years. The first cheese shop was in a renovated schoolhouse on a corner at the intersection of highways 41 and 43 in Kenosha County, but after being destroyed by a fire in 1957 and forced to move in 2011 due to a highway expansion, Mars’ Cheese Castle resides at 2800 West Frontage Road and has become an iconic business that has maintained the highest quality and service. One of the longest products the business has carried is the world famous Usinger bratwurst, which is a family recipe developed by Tyson’s grandfather with Usinger’s. Tyson’s grandfather and father also had the idea to add a bakery to the store. His father took baking classes and created the cheese bread which is the #1 seller in the bakery. More than a million loaves have been sold! This one-stop shop also offers Wisconsin cheese, sausage, wine, beer, novelty souvenirs and gift baskets. Tyson’s grandfather’s philosophy, then his father’s, and now his is this: “You support the local people around you, and your community, and they’ll support you back.”
John N. Tenuta left his native Italy in 1926 to seek his fortune in the United States. In 1950, John and Lydia Tenuta opened Tenuta’s Delicatessen and Liquors. Today, Tenuta’s is run by the third generation, John’s grandson and Ralph’s son, Chris. Tenuta’s is located at 3203 52nd Street. Chris has described Tenuta’s as an old-style deli and wine store. The authentic Italian food grocery - in an “old world setting” - is very popular with motorcoach tours and out-of-town visitors. It offers a wide variety of items, including appetizers, salads, prepared foods, deli trays, cold and hot sandwiches, cheese, sausage and salami and desserts (including cannoli) - and that is just the deli part of the store. The outdoor grill, with Italian sausage and more, is popular with the lunch crowd when the weather permits. The grocery section offers spices, peppers, oils, vinegars, tomatoes, pasta, rice, extracts, imported and domestic candies, kitchen tools and more. There is also a liquor section. Tenuta’s offers cheeses, vinegars and oils not found in every community, as well as over 200 types of cigars.
In 1954, Lou Perrine Sr. start a small full-service Clark station in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Back in the good ol’ days, someone pumped your gas, checked your oil, and cleaned your windshield for you. Grandpa Lou, as he is affectionately called, was known for his smiling face and outstanding customer service. Lou Jr. entered the family business during his high school years. At the same time, he met his future wife, Laurie. The two took over station and now their eldest son, Anthony, is the third generation involved and the business is known as Lou Perrine's Gas and Groceries. The focus is still on customer service – you can still call and have your gas pumped for you if you need assistance for any reason. And full-service now means more than just gas – but also groceries, fishing licenses, great coffee, Mama P’s Hoho Cake and so much more. The family stays involved in the community and is expanding to a second location on Kenosha’s south side in 2021.
These are just a few of the long-standing, family-owned businesses in our community. As time marches on and new specialty stores and restaurants open in the Kenosha Area, it may be the beginning of even more family legacies.