FALL CREEK, Wis. (WEAU) — Two restaurants operating in the Chippewa Valley for decades are changing owners.

Lynn McDonough opened Connell’s Supper Club in Chippewa Falls back in 1988 and he later opened another one in Falls Creek off of Highway 12.

Due to an illness and trouble getting around like he used to, McDonough decided it was time to sell. His staff says they are grateful for his years of service.

“Lynn is a legend in the Chippewa Falls area, Eau Claire, and Fall Creek,” Connell’s Supper Club 12 general manager Carol Lien said.

Lien is the general manager of the Fall Creek Supper Club locations. She has worked with McDonough for more than 20 years and now that it’s time for her boss to retire, she says it’s bittersweet.

“I learned so much from him through the years that I have worked for him He’s the brains behind the business,” Lien said. “It’s been a fun ride.”

Neal Wellner has been a part of the Chippewa Falls locations since 1990.

“I never thought I would have done this for the 30 years or 30 plus years, but here we are,” Wellner said. “And it’s definitely been an adventure.”

With the upcoming transition of owners, Wellner hopes the supper club feel that McDonough built will carry on.

“It’s the feel of a supper club, you know, and he’s never wanted that tradition to go away, by no means,” Wellner said. “So with the new owners coming in, we certainly hope that that stays there.”

Lien feels the same.

“It’s the old-fashioned relish trays and cracker baskets with cheese and old fashions,” Lien said. “We’re known for our old fashions and Connell’s pours a heavy old fashioned and I don’t want that to change because that is us.”

Fellow restauranteur and former Wisconsin Restaurant Association, Joanne Palzkill says McDonough has made strides in the industry.

“He’s done a lot to really help put the Chippewa Valley on the map as far as the entire state of Wisconsin is concerned,” Palzkill said.

Palzkill also says he’s been a mentor to others in the business.

“He’s someone who motivates everyone and influences us, not in the way of like, look at me what I’m doing. He’s just a genuine, natural person and he just cares so much,” Palzkill said.

Over the years McDonough has collected a number of autographs from celebrities, and Lie says that just shows how much he cared for his patrons.

“He went individually and he went shopping late at night to make sure he had the right mustard, to make sure he had the right horseradish sauce, whatever it was,” Lien said.

As the pages turn on to the next chapter, Lien hopes the Supper Clubs and all that McDonough built will continue to serve those who walk through the doors.

“I believe in everything he’s accomplished. And he’s a legacy to the area, the community,” Lien said.

The sale of Connell’s Restaurants is nearly finalized. As part of the agreement, the staff at both locations will be invited to stay on.

Until there is a transitionary period, both Supper Clubs will remain open until the sale is complete.

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