When Pat DuFrane opened the downtown Menasha eatery the WeatherVane, he was unsure the venture would succeed. Little did he know at the time that in the next eight years, his small 54-seat restaurant would expand twice, fueled by the love and loyalty of residents of Menasha and beyond. Today, the breakfast and lunch restaurant has two kitchens and seats about 150.
The WeatherVane’s presence elevates and benefits the entire downtown, says Menasha Mayor Donald Merkes, a frequent patron. “They draw from the entire Fox Cities.”
Merkes’ favorites include the potato pancakes, $8.89 for four and paired with applewood-smoked bacon and applesauce, and the Chipotle Black Bean Burger, $9.59, served on a Kaiser roll with pepper jack cheese, lettuce and tomato, with chipotle mayo on the side.
Melanie DuFrane, general manager, says other customer favorites include the Santa Fe Chicken Wrap, $10.19, and the Chicken Dumpling Soup, made from scratch from her mother’s recipe.
Weather is the inspiration for more than just the restaurant’s name — Pat DuFrane studied meteorology in college. The menu includes the Thundering Steak Omelet, the Stratus Pesto Panini and the mighty one-third-pound Hurricane Burger, $10.19, topped with bacon, onion rings, an egg, pepper jack cheese, lettuce and tomato.
“It’s been an amazing journey,” says Melanie DuFrane of the award-winning eatery’s tremendous success.
— Jessica Thiel