Rancho los Girasoles is opening in former Pine Knoll building

Rancho los Girasoles event center owner Juan Perez and operations manager Lina Hernandez welcome the pubic to visit the new business, located in the former Pine Knoll Supper Club on State Highway 89 in the Town of Waterloo.

LAKE MILLS -- A supper club once named for a grove of long-lived evergreens is now taking on the characteristics, and name, of a resilient flower with petals reminiscent of the sun's rays.

Rancho los Girasoles, which translates to sunflower ranch, invited family, friends and neighbors to the updated events venue at 7755 State Highway 89, former Pine Knoll Supper Club.

The business is owned by Juan Perez, who also owns La Rosita grocery store at 6005 Monona Drive and the La Rosita all-you-can-eat Mexican buffet at 6001 Monona Drive in Monona. According to Rancho los Girasoles director of entertainment, Juan Garcia, Perez had been looking for a location to create an entertainment/events venue. He found the former Pine Knoll Supper Club fit the criteria for his aspiration.

"His idea is let's create something for everybody. Let's build a place where every other week there can be music where we can include everyone," Garcia said.

Operations manager Lina Hernandez explained the significance of the name Rancho los Girasoles. She said it derives from the symbolism of the sunflower, as the plants have a smaller stalk and a large flower. Hernandez said the plant, like the venue, starts with something modest and not too large, but it blooms and grows into something beautiful.

Additionally, when a sunflower needs to recharge, it turns to the sun but when there is no sunlight available, Hernandez said the flowers can turn to each other to gain energy. She said Rancho los Girasoles will get energized from the people who help the business thrive.

She said a sunflower may also sit idle for some time and not be taken care of, but it has a future if it can be re-nourished and brought back to life, much like the building on Highway 89. Hernandez said the business management team is taking what already existed, grow it and bring it into what they envisioned.

Rancho los Girasoles will be available to rent, but public events will be one of the primary uses of the business. A grand opening will be held Sunday beginning at noon, featuring eight bands. Tickets are $20 each and can be purchased at the Monona and Watertown La Rosita grocery store locations and the La Rosita buffet in Monona.

Rancho los Girasoles will feature a Latin catering menu for events and Latin musicians will primarily be brought in, but Garcia wants to ensure that the venue space is available for everyone to utilize. He said the plan is to bring in a variety of music, including rock and country, for public events.

"Instead of going to Madison, instead of going to Chicago or Milwaukee for these other venues, we're going to bring music into town. There are going to be times when we're asking the community 'What do you want to hear? What would you like for us to bring in?' We can make this into a whole family venue."

The town of Waterloo building has been sitting vacant for approximately six years, according to Garcia. Numerous renovations and repairs were necessary to get the venue ready to reopen. The director of entertainment said everything that had been left at the supper club, including utensils and kitchen equipment, needed to be replaced.

"(Perez) put a lot of money into upgrading the kitchen with industrial sized stoves and coolers. A new refrigeration system was put in," Garcia said. "In the wintertime the roof was leaking all over, you could hear the water trickle in so the shingles were all replaced, the roof has been taken care of and fixed."

Perez already has ideas for expanding Rancho los Girasoles. Garcia said the business owner would like to a build a 12,000-15,000 square foot structure on the property to host even larger events such as concerts and exhibitions.

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