March 28, 2011
Bill von Rutenberg Named
2011 Restaurateur of the Year
Bill von Rutenberg of von Rutenberg Ventures in the Madison area was recently named Restaurateur of the Year by the Wisconsin Restaurant Association. The Restaurateur of the Year is the industry’s top honor and is given to only one restaurant operator each year. Von Rutenberg was announced as the winner at the Association’s annual Awards Dinner, held at the Intercontinental in Milwaukee on March 22nd in conjunction with the Wisconsin Restaurant Expo.
Bill and his brothers Jack and Robert operate von Rutenberg Ventures, the popular and successful restaurant group located in the Madison area which includes Mariner’s Inn, Captain Bill’s, the Nau-Ti-Gal and Betty Lou Cruises – all known for their beautiful waterfront views, excellent food and warm hospitality. His parents, Bill and Betty von Rutenberg, opened The Nibble Nook, a small burger joint, back in 1961. Five years later they bought a supper club on Lake Mendota and opened it as the Mariner’s Inn. 1982 brought the creation of the Nau-Ti-Gal, also on Lake Mendota, and later another waterfront location, Captain’s Bills, opened its doors in 1993. In 1998, Betty Lou Cruises, named in honor of matriarch Betty von Rutenberg, started offering private group charters and public cruises.
The restaurants have received national media attention for their food and their impressive wine lists. Signature items on the menu at Captain Bill’s, coconut shrimp, clam chowder and crab cakes, were featured on the Food Network.
Bill Von Rutenberg attended the University of Wisconsin Madison where he earned a degree in Business Administration in 1981. While at UW, he played football for the Badgers and was given the nickname of “Mr. Hustle.”
Very supportive of WRA at both chapter and state levels, von Rutenberg joined the Wisconsin Restaurant Association board of directors in 1996. On the board he chaired many committees and served as Chairman of the Board in 2006. Von Rutenberg has also traveled to Washington, D.C. as part of the Wisconsin delegation for the NRA Public Affairs Conference.
A hands-on operator, he manages to be active in his community and spend quality time with his wife Debra and their children. He is involved with the Yahara Lake Association, The National W Club and was recently named to the Dane County Public Health Department’s Food Service Advisory Committee. He also currently serves as Supervisor of the Town of Westport.
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Since 1933, the Wisconsin Restaurant Association has been dedicated to the promotion, protection and improvement of the foodservice industry.