Historic Iola Mills: Fall Travel Series

This weekend marks the official beginning of the Fall Equinox.  To kick off the season I’m introducing a new series to my Blog.

fall travel series

Our first stop is Iola Wisconsin!

 A village in Waupaca County of about 1300 residents, not too far from the Symco Shakedown and the new home of The Miller’s in Amherst.  Most famous for the Iola Car Show, a must-do summer event for Nick and I every year and about the only time I find myself in this quaint scandinavian town.  However, MDH recently began construction on an 1800 square foot ranch for a couple I have been working with and this brought me to Iola earlier this week for an electrical walk-thru.  As luck would have it, I decided to stop for lunch at the Historic Iola Mills.

IM cafe

I walked in expecting coffee and a few sandwich options, just something quick and easy before I got back on the road, but was greeted by a case of decadent looking gelato and a friendly staff member who kindly asked me-

“Do you want to eat here, or in the Mill?”

That got my attention pretty quickly- I can eat in the Mill?  Yes, please!

She led me away from the charming checkerboard flooring of the initial cafe entrance up a few worn steps and through a doorway to this-

IM inside3

Industrial lights, hewn wood beams, gray and whitewashed walls with the paint perfectly chipped and weathered, that great patina of old pulleys and used metal gears against open rafters with the slight sparkle of patio lights, strung for a party…

Yeah, they pretty much had me at- do you want to eat in the Mill?

IM view from my table

It was early for lunch and I had the place to myself for the time being, so I chose this antique oak table at the front of the building and then my camera came out…and well…

There was really no chance of me playing it cool after that.

I mean, C’mon!  Just look at this place!

IM set up for wedd

IM cash register

IM inside4

IM inside

You can sit right among all the once operating guts of the gristmill dating back as early as 1853…

IM inside2

Eat at one of these cool industrial tables…

IM indust table

Or near this big white horse…

IM horse2

IM horse

Everywhere you look there are antiques, some tucked into niches in the walls, remains of what was once the museum and gift shop here.

IM twig table

IM antiques

Recently renovated by a guy who held onto a dream for 18 years, the Mill is now part cafe, part event facility.  The entire center of the building, where I chose to eat, has a great outdoor eating vibe.  Which explains why this place is only open seasonally and will close up by November when the cooler temperatures make it hard to heat.

IM relax area

The electricity for the establishment is still entirely supplied by the original water turbine that was rebuilt and operates off the stream running through the property and under the building.

IM pond and garden

And besides having all this atmosphere- I had almost forgot I came here to eat- the food is really good!

IM food

My Curry Chicken sandwich with pineapple and ranch dressing was excellant!  I’d order it again!  Of course there were some great salads with seasonal berries that sounded really good as well.  Mainly open for lunch, their menu also features pizza in the evenings on the weekends.

IM menu

And you can’t leave without trying their signature gelato.  I enjoyed the carmel apple flavor while sitting out by the pond.  So good!

Part of my idea for the Fall Travel Series was to highlight the unexpected places in Wisconsin that warm your heart like this one did for me.  Many thanks to Tom and Melody Fucik for buying this place, fixing it up and honoring its history.  We need to keep treasures like this one alive!

IM outside

So take a chance on an autumn drive. The curving roads and granite rocks that dot the Iola landscape make a beautiful backdrop for fall’s changing colors.  Spice up a Wednesday lunch with a stop here, or make it a destination for pizza dinner on the weekend, either way- get out there and enjoy these things while you can!

IM at night

Historic Iola Mills

300 North Main Street

Iola, WI 54945


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