Maximize beach lounging with a cabana
After high school, Jeffrey Ferchoff moved to Clearwater, Fla. and worked on a beach for the Sheridan Hotel managing, among other things, cabana rentals.
When he moved back to Milwaukee, Ferchoff -- who currently lives in Greendale -- decided to bring the cabana concept to the shore of Lake Michigan.
This season, Ferchoff launched Bradford Beach Cabanas, a beach furniture rental company contracted through the Milwaukee County Parks.
"Bradford Beach evolved a lot in the past couple of years, and I wanted to add another element that would bring people down to the beach," says Ferchoff, 31.
The cost to rent a cabana or umbrella with two chairs and cushions for a half-day is $20. For the entire day, the cost is $25. The cost to rent a single lounge chair is $5 per day.
"I wanted to keep it reasonable," says Ferchoff. "I want people to come down, use it and give us feedback."
The cabanas and umbrellas are located inside a roped-off section of the beach -- in front of the beach house -- and include a wait staff. All of the chairs feature a flag, and if loungers want to order food or drink, they simply "flip up" the flag and a server comes to their chair side.
The food and beverages available at Bradford Beach include beer, wine, cocktails, wraps, pizza, brats and nachos. Todd Gawronski, along with partners Scott Johnson and Leslie Montemurro of the Comet / Fuel Cafe, handle the concessions area.
The prices are the same through the cabana wait staff.
"It's nice when the line is 50-feet deep and you just sit in a lounge chair and someone comes and takes care of you," says Ferchoff.
Ferchoff says, so far, the cabana business has been good. Most weekends he rents all of his cabanas and recommends calling ahead to reserve one.
He says the cabana option is attracting people to Bradford Beach who might not usually come. It's also ideal, he says, for corporate outings, parties and families.
"Moms take their kids to the museum or the zoo, but at the beach, they can get pampered in a lounge chair while the kids run around safely in a roped-off area," he says.
Because the cabanas are located in a special section, customers have a little more space from other beach-goers.
"You know you won't get stuck next to 25 college kids when you rent a cabana," says Ferchoff, who also owns the Fertsch's Malt Shops in Greendale, Franklin and -- possibly in the near future -- in the Downtown area.
Ferchoff hopes to expand his cabana business next season to include kayaks, parasails and jet skis. For now, he's focusing on pampering his new customers with affordable beach furniture and prompt service.
"A lot of regulars keep coming back. People seem to really enjoy it," says Ferchoff. "I tell people, 'Just bring a towel and we'll take care of everything else.'"
Saw these a few weeks ago on a bike ride. I think it's a great idea. Bravo for somebody elevating the level of service in Milwaukee.
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