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New West Wind owner will continue ‘Pechacek legacy’

Some West Wind managers and employees are shown with Leone and Pechacek. From left are: Adam Randall, executive chef; Lois Cernohous, dining room manager; Eddie Miller, bar manager; Sue Davis, catering sales; Leone; Pechacek; Betty Brueske, catering sales director; Darren Graves, general manager; Emily Knapp, catering sales. (River Falls Journal photos by Gretta Stark)

The West Wind Supper Club is changing hands after 35 years under Pechacek family ownership.

But it’s a familiar hand.

With owner Kevin Pechacek stepping into semi-retirement, ownership of the popular Main Street restaurant has changed to Anthony Leone -- someone Pechacek considers part of the West Wind family.

Leone has been with the West Wind for 11 years. Initially hired as a chef, it wasn’t long before he became executive chef.

“About three years ago, Tony made it clear to me that he liked doing what we was doing, and he liked working for me,” Pechacek said, “but he wanted to own his own place and he would like an opportunity to own the West Wind and River Valley Catering.”

Since then, those businesses have grown, and The West Wind has added a catering kitchen to the restaurant.

“I just feel like now is the time,” Pechacek said. “The business is strong, and he’s taking over a successful business. That’s how I wanted it to be.”

Leone officially took over on Monday.

“This is something I’ve dreamt about and wanted for a really long time,” Leone said. “I almost feel like a kid going to Disneyland for the first time.”

Both Pechacek and Leone said the process of passing over the reins has actually been a long, gradual one.

“It’s just been a growing process,” Leone said. “I knew a long time ago I always wanted to own my own business, and I wasn’t even sure if it was a restaurant business that I wanted to own or if it was some other business. But the restaurant business is what I’ve done, it's what I’ve known, it's what I've learned. And Kevin has given me one hell of an opportunity to follow my dream.”

Though Leone is now the owner, Leone said he doesn’t plan to make any major changes to the West Wind. He said the restaurant is a staple in the city, and he’d like to keep it that way.

“I just want to continue the Pechacek legacy,” Leone said. “It’s been growing. I want it to continue to grow. I want to continue to support the community. I want the continued support of the community, and I want to thank them for all the support they gave Kevin ... and I hope that continues.”

The West Wind first came into Pechacek hands in 1981 when Pechacek’s father Clair and brother Craig purchased the restaurant. Craig and Kevin bought their father out in 1987. Kevin bought Craig out in 2000. Kevin Pechacek purchased River Valley Catering in 2007 or 2008.  

Leone is a 2000 Hudson High School graduate, and a Hudson resident -- though he did attend Westside Elementary in River Falls for third through fifth grade.

Both Leone and Pechacek said they want those dining at The West Wind to feel like guests invited to come and have a meal. The West Wind staff, they said, does a great job of that.

Pechacek plans to be a frequent West Wind guest in the future. He’ll still be involved with the restaurant, too, in more of a consultant capacity.

Pechacek and Leone said they'd both like to thank everyone who has helped make this transition possible.

Pechacek specifically thanked:

Bankers David Smith, Dale Jensen, and longtime accountant Steve Wilson, as well as Doug Geisler, attorney Leo Beskar of Rodli Beskar Neuhaus, Murray & Pletcher, and dear friend Mel Manthey, who helped “in the beginning.”

Leone thanked Royal Credit Union and Scott Jones, as well as Doug Geissler of Geissler CPA, and Sam Cari of Heywood, Cari & Anderson.

Pechacek and Leone especially thanked the West Wind staff: cooks, servers, bartenders, bussers and dishwashers.

Learn more about The West Wind and River Valley Catering at www.thewestwind.com

Read the full story in the Aug. 3 print edition of the River Falls Journal.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

(715) 426-1048
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