Lisa Burich purchases Saukville pizza parlor started by her parents
Saukville’s iconic pizza parlor, the Riverview Inn, 3172 Hwy. W, has changed hands — but the change promises to be more subtle than dramatic.
Lisa Burich has purchased the popular family restaurant lauded for its thin-crust pizza from her sister, Cindy Wille.
The closing date of the sale was in November.
Adding an air of authority to the transaction, the Saukville Town Board approved transferring the restaurant’s liquor license to Burich last week.
As they took that action, town officials asked her if she planned to shake up the menu.
“My dad would be pretty angry if we changed his pizza recipe,” Burich said.
The new owner is anything but a new face around the restaurant.
“I first started officially working there — by that, I mean getting paid — when I was 9 years old. I washed dishes and wiped down tables,” she said.
The restaurant was founded in 1963 by Art and Darlene Wille — the sisters’ parents.
Art originally ran a bar in Milwaukee. The family then moved to Grafton for two years before Wille and his wife bought the riverside building and opened the restaurant.
While it started as a classic meat-and-potatoes restaurant, the Willes developed a signature pizza recipe using their own blended sausage that resonated with hungry customers.
When Art passed away in 1990, the sisters took over the business under the watchful eye of their mother until she died in 2002.
It was at that time the Riverview Inn adopted the subtitle “The Next Generation.”
“After a while, I wanted to get out and Cindy operated the restaurant. I helped out as much as I could,” Burich said.
That help came during so-called “free time” from her full-time job for the past 30 years in the corporate world. She was most recently a manager at Super Steel in Milwaukee.
In an unusual twist on retiring to a more sedate life, Burich offered to buy her sister’s interest in the business.
“I know exactly what I am getting into, but I always wanted to run the restaurant,” she said.
“When Cindy decided she wanted to spend more time with her kids and grandkids, she asked if I was interested in buying the business. I said, ‘Sure.’”
Burich said she has some ideas for changes, although she quickly wanted to reassure customers that she has no plans to tinker with success.
“I want to expand the kitchen. With the size of the kitchen we have now, it can take an hour for carry-out orders to be ready,” she said.
“I would also really like to do corporate catering on Mondays and Tuesdays (when the restaurant is closed).”
Burich said she has done limited catering for businesses in the Village of Saukville’s nearby industrial park to rave reviews.
“I sent around some flyers about catering and the folks at Charter Steel are almost beating down the doors asking when it will be available,” Burich said.
Already looking to diversify, the restaurant has also started selling a frozen version of its pizza. It is currently available only at the restaurant.
The Riverview Inn’s tradition of being a family business is likely to remain intact, Burich said, possibly for a long time to come.
She and her sister have each had three children work at the restaurant.
“Who knows, sometime down the road maybe one of them will be taking over the business from me,” Burich said.
Image Information: LISA BURICH POSED with some artifacts collected during the more than 50 years the Riverview Inn restaurant in the Town of Saukville has been in business. Among them are a photograph of her father, Art, who started the pizza restaurant with his wife Darlene. Burich has purchased the business from her sister, Cindy Wille.Photo by Mark Jaeger