Archived "Meet our Members" Articles
The Beechmoor Lounge & Restaurant
Meet Andy and Darlene Mela, owners of Beechmoor Lounge and Restaurant. Originally from Ohio (Andy) and Illinois (Darlene), they met in Florida when both were working at a private resort on Key Largo. After enjoying vacations in the Northwoods, they knew this is where they wanted to be when they opened their own place.
The Mela’s purchased the Beechmoor in 1994. Back then, the internet was a new-fangled tool, and they were some of the very first to use it to find properties for sale in this area.
Andy and Darlene are very active members of the Sno-Trails Snowmobile Club. Andy does grooming, brushing, and trail staking. Darlene is the club Vice President, and a driving force behind our club events. She is also a volunteer for the Hayward schools. The couple is also very active with the Tavern League of Wisconsin.
Darlene is quick to describe their business as family-oriented. Andy compares it to Cheers, where everybody knows your name. Andy likes to tell jokes, even if nobody besides Andy laughs at them. Andy says Darlene is patient. “She has to be”, he says, “to put up with me.”
Andy and Darlene have a 14 year-old daughter, Joylene, and a 6 ½ year-old black lab/springer mix named Lilly. The family enjoys snowmobiling, camping trips, and spending time on Whitefish Lake on their pontoon boat. They also love to travel. Over the years they have visited nearly every continent, and are looking forward to a Caribbean trip next year.
Meet Matt and Melanie MiKesh, the new owners of Chippewa Pines. Formerly from Clinton, Iowa, they were summer residents at Johnny B’s campground on Blueberry Lake for a number of years. A few years ago, they started looking for retirement property on Round Lake, but the former owners of Chippewa Pines convinced them the resort was an opportunity they couldn’t pass up. With their son Collin nearing age 18, the MiKesh’s also saw this as something the family could do together after Collin graduated. Collin is already being groomed to get involved in the business after graduation.
Matt’s background is in the auto industry. He owned two car dealerships at one time, and then started a promotional and advertising company for the auto industry. Melanie has a background in bar management. In fact, she and Matt met when Matt was on a temporary contract in Dyersville, Iowa, and Matt found himself hanging out at the bar where she worked.
Besides their son Collin, they have four dogs – two Golden Doodles, one Golden Retriever, and one lively new English Cream Retriever puppy. Their friendly menagerie often welcomes and entertains bar visitors.
Since purchasing Chippewa Pines in April, 2017, Matt and Melanie have done some remodeling. Although winter arrived before they could finish the exterior siding, the interior is warm and cozy – their goal is to have a homey and inviting place to stop. Matt says the previous owners focused on their summer resort guests, and were never open in the winter. His goal is to expand the resort’s hospitality to the general public all year round.
Matt says that the best part of the resort business is being around people who are happy to be there. Customers at a car dealership are there because they need a repair or have to buy a car, but resort customers want to be there. He also says the support from surrounding businesses on the Chippewa Flowage has been amazing.
When they have free time, Matt loves hunting, fishing, 4-wheeling, and snowmobiling. Melanie now has her own snowmobile, and enjoyed her first ride. But her favorite activity for down-time is reading.
Dave Duffy is our Sno-Trails Volunteer of the Month. Dave has been grooming trails for over a decade. Originally he pulled a drag behind a Skandic utility snowmobile, but now he uses one of the club’s Ranger groomers. He works the “Beechmoor Loop”, which is mostly trails that the big groomers can’t do.
Dave lives near Beechmoor and got to know owner Andy Mela. When Andy asked Dave if he would do grooming, Dave asked his wife, Neva, what she thought. Her reply was “What else do you have to do?” So, Dave told Andy he would do it, as long as he could get summers off!
Dave and Neva have been married for 50 years, have one son and one grandson. Their son, Sean, also does brushing and grooming for Sno-Trails.
The Duffy’s purchased their cabin on Hungry Lake 18 years ago. It was an unfinished shell that they finished themselves on weekends, while commuting back to Rochester, MN for work. Dave worked in Property Records for Olmstead County, and Neva worked at Mayo Health System. After retirement, Dave moved to “the cabin”. But Neva decided retirement did not suit her so found a part-time job in Eyota, MN and continues a weekly commute.
Dave says he really enjoys grooming. It’s fun to get out, and satisfying to do something that makes visitors happy and want to return. He grooms at least two times a week, and sometimes almost daily. For many years, he says, he put in more miles grooming than riding. He points out that grooming is something that needs to be done, and he wants people who come here to find good trails. He knows his work is appreciated – whenever he is out wearing his groomer jacket, people go out of their way to say thank you.
Dave and Neva no longer snowmobile. And after Neva broke both wrists in December, snowmobiling would not have been possible this year anyway. She’s on the mend, but Dave has been her driver and care assistant this winter. But he still makes time for grooming, as evidenced by the fine trail conditions near Beechmoor.
In the summer months, Dave likes to fish, and he also golfs in a league.
Chief Lake Lodge
Chief Lake Lodge is truly a family affair. Four generations of the Licciardone family now call it their home. Forty years ago, Beverly Licciardone and her husband were looking for a place to retire to from Chicago, and decided Chief Lake Lodge was the spot. Over the years, 13 different family members have been involved in the resort. After her husband passed away in 2005, Beverly continued to run the business along with her son Rudy, his daughter Lea, and a grandson, Ryan Wehrman. Rudy introduced his 5-year-old grandson Logan as the “future of Chief Lake Lodge”.
Gina Capelle is another member of the Licciardone “family”. Though unrelated, the rest of the Licciardone’s agree she is the heart and soul of Chief Lake Lodge. Her involvement started 9 years ago when she came to the restaurant with a friend. The place was packed, and Gina just started to pitch in. Now Gina says she “lives and breathes” Chief Lake Lodge.
Rounding out this extended family is their black lab, aptly named “Chief”.
Rudy grew up in Hayward. After high school, he followed in his father’s footsteps and was a Pepsi route salesman in Chicago. But in 1995 he returned to Hayward and has been working at Chief Lake Lodge ever since. He says customers appreciate the warm, friendly atmosphere and the great view of the lake. It is well known for its food, and was just recognized by SnowGoer magazine as one of the Best Pit Stops in the Midwest. The place just feels like family – the Licciardone’s and their customers have known one another for multiple generations.
Because they are open 7 days a week, there isn’t a lot of time for outside activities, but Rudy loves to snowmobile, and tries to fish and hunt when he can. Beverly retreats to her second home in Naples, FL for a few weeks each year between peak seasons.
Meet Michele Horman, owner of Trails End for the past 33 years. Michele grew up in Rice Lake, WI and then majored in business and public relations at UW Eau Claire. That’s where she met her future husband Michael, whose family owned Trails End. Michele and Michael worked at the resort for two years and then purchased it from his parents. At the time, the bar was an un-winterized A-frame shell. The marriage eventually came to an end but Michele has been developing and expanding Trails End ever since.
Michele likes to stay active. She frequently swims across the bay in front of the restaurant, and has completed well over 100 swims each summer. She did not start swimming until later in her life, and says she’s “not good, just stubborn”! During the off-season, she enjoys traveling to warmer climates. She enjoys snowmobiling during the winter months, and wants to do more traveling, including Europe.
Above the bar, there is a photo of Michele holding a large musky, but Michele has only fished once. A customer who was an experienced fisherman convinced her to give it a try, and they caught 2 muskies that night. So Michele retired from musky fishing after exactly one night.
Michele has two adult children. Her son Jeremy manages the restaurant, and her daughter works as a Marketing director in Duluth.
Michele’s wants Trails End to be the “go-to place” for entertainment. Whether it is live music, bingo, karaoke, football parties, or special events, when you are looking for someplace to go for fun, she hopes you will think of Trails End.
Our first Volunteer of the Month is Bruce McMillin. Bruce has been snowmobiling since the early 70’s and was an active volunteer right from the start. Back then, he lived in Rock County, south of Madison, and was a member of the Rock County Snowblowers club. He served a term as club president, was president of the Rock County Snowmobile Club Alliance, and was also the AWSC director for Rock County. He was also a snowmobile safety instructor.
Bruce discovered snowmobiling in the Hayward area when he came here in 1974 on a club trip, the first of many trips to follow. Bruce noted that these trips always occurred between Christmas and New Year’s, and they never once called ahead to see if there was snow. There always was!
Bruce and his family (he has 2 sons) also spent their summer vacations in Hayward, so moving here was only logical when he retired from his job as Investment Advisor in 2001. His new home was on Little Round Lake. After enduring a season of man-eating bumps on Trail 9 between Osprey and Little Round, he volunteered to get involved in staking and grooming that section of trail. He’s also in charge of painting and distributing the nearly 1600 lake stakes Sno-Trails puts up each winter.
Bruce organized the first Johnson Memorial Vintage Ride in 2004, in memory of Sno-Trails member Kaye Johnson. The ride has grown from 28 sleds the first year to over 150 in recent years. Seeing the popularity of the vintage ride, Bruce put an ad in the paper about forming a vintage snowmobile club. Some 3 dozen people showed up for the meeting, and the Relic Riders club was born.
Bruce served as the AWSC director for Sawyer County for a number of years. This meant getting involved with the Sawyer County Alliance. Bruce remembers his first Alliance meeting – he walked in wearing a suit and tie. He quickly learned things are much more casual around here.
Bruce is married to Susan McMillan, known as “Cruisin’ Susan” on the trails. Between their combined families, they have 10 grandchildren, and all but the baby have been on snowmobiles! In the summer, Bruce can usually be found out in a boat fishing.
The biggest benefit of volunteering, says Bruce, are the irreplaceable friendships he has formed. It’s a great way for people who are new to the area to meet new friends.