Jennifer Michiels

by Tim Froberg

Jennifer Michiels’ busy life revolves around food and family. 

She’s following a family recipe for success that has made the Michiels’ name synonymous with culinary excellence.

Jennifer is a third-generation owner of Michiels Restaurant and Catering in Menasha.

Both segments of the business have deep roots established by the Michiels family. 

The restaurant side, Michiels Bar and Grill, features a supper club atmosphere. It was established in 1960 – when it was known as Michiels Sherwood Inn – by Jennifer’s grandparents, Jerry and Julie Michiels. Jennifer’s uncle, Monte, and her father, Todd, took over the business in 1980 before Monte became primary owner.

Jennifer’s aunt, Debra Michiels, handled the catering business for years. Jennifer, who worked closely with Debra throughout high school and college, eventually took over both ends of the family business in 2016.

What has it been like handling the restaurant end of the business?

“It’s been fun. We’ve stayed true to our supper club roots, yet I’ve been able put my own spin on things and make it my own.”

What are the restaurant’s signature dishes?

“Our soup-and-salad bar are what we’re super well-known for. You’re seeing less and less of them as time goes on, and we have a great one. Steaks and prime rib are staples. I’d highly recommend our stuffed tenderloin.”

How has the pandemic impacted the catering business?

“Boxed lunches had never previously been a significant portion of the business, but that side is booming right now. The decline has been on the corporate side. A lot of people just aren’t in the office right now.”

How has it changed your approach to catering?

 “We’ve done a lot of prepackaged catering – something we had never done. Our customers, especially our corporate customers, have been willing to work with us and find a way to support us. That’s been heartwarming.”