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March 15, 2016

Local Restaurant Owners Honored As Outstanding Restaurateurs of the Year

Jerry and Marie Arenas of Palmer’s Steakhouse in Hartland are being honored as Outstanding Restaurateurs of the Year (OROY) by the Wisconsin Restaurant Association (WRA) Milwaukee Chapter, made up of Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington and Waukesha counties. The OROY award is given by fellow members of the Milwaukee Chapter based on success in business, community service and dedication to the restaurant industry.

The OROY award was presented to Jerry and Marie Arenas on January 18th at a WRA Milwaukee Chapter meeting held at Wisconsin City Club in Milwaukee. A Legislative Citation was also presented to the couple at the meeting.

On Tuesday, March 8th, Jerry and Marie Arenas were also honored with a commendation medal at the 2016 WRA Awards Dinner gala, which took place at The Grain Exchange by Bartolotta Catering & Events in Milwaukee.

Owner and cook Jerry Arenas began cooking steaks at the famous Rafters Restaurant in Milwaukee when he was just 14 years old.   Years later at Rafters, Jerry met his future wife Marie.  After discovering their love for hospitality and great food, Jerry and Marie took the plunge into opening their very own steakhouse.  The Steakhouse 100 on Hwy 100 and Greenfield was their first restaurant.  Then in 1992 they opened the Porterhouse in Milwaukee and solidified their reputation in the restaurant industry.   Jerry continued cooking and grilling steaks while Marie ran the floor, welcomed guests, and quickly became known as one of the best hostesses in the city.

In 2005, they bought the Cobblestone Inn in Hartland. They had a vision for a new steakhouse, bringing the building back to its historical look.   After over a half of year of renovations and re-modeling, Palmer's Steakhouse opened in 2006 to a huge crowd of local supporters and friends. Their daughter Lisa Hedrick is the Principal at St. Bruno Parish School in Dousman. Their son Tony joined the operation of the family business at that time, using his degree in marketing from Marquette to help bring Palmer's to the digital age, managing the website and other social media outlets.  

There is rarely a day in which members of the family are not at the restaurant.  Jerry still cooks five nights a week and has estimated he has cooked hundreds of thousands of steaks in his lifetime.   

Jerry and Marie Arenas became involved with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation 30 years ago when their son, Tony, was diagnosed with the disease. Initially the family’s fundraising efforts started small, a fishbowl to collect donations brought in $1,600. Now their annual “Tent Event” regularly draws over 500 attendees who enjoy delicious food, live music, auction items and celebrity guests. It has grown tremendously in scope, popularity and success over time and the total amount raised over the years is over the $2 million mark. It’s very meaningful to the Arenas family that former and current employees and customers have been incredibly supportive.

The restaurant has been a state finalist several times for the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s Restaurant Neighbor Award which recognizes the community involvement of restaurants.

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Wisconsin Restaurant Association • 2801 Fish Hatchery Rd. • Madison, WI 53713 • Tel: 608.270.9950 • Toll Free: 800.589.3211 • FAX: 608.270.9960