By Kate Knight
After 42 years of business, Ella’s In Point will close its doors on Wednesday, May 25 at 11 PM.
The bar and restaurant establishment, owned by Kevin and Adelle Spaay, has been in operation since October of 1974 at its well-known location on Division Street in Stevens Point.
“I’ve been here 92 semesters total,” owner Kevin Spaay said, using the college academic calendar as a marker of his time. Spaay began his undergraduate career in 1970 and opened the doors to Ella’s four years later. The establishment has been frequented by UWSP college students ever since.
While recalling Ella’s “glory days” Spaay remembers seeing lines of college students out the door waiting to get in. He also recalled the marshy landscape that was the north end of the city before most of Division Street was developed.
Spaay said changes in college class scheduling and the legal drinking age, along with property evolving from residential to commercial on Division, all contributed to a “changed dynamic” in Ella’s neighborhood and business.
“It’s inevitable – people change, habits change, this industry changes,” Spaay said. “Forty-two years is enough.” He explained he and his wife, Adelle, began planning Ella’s closing about six months ago before making the announcement last week.
“We might come back, we might not come back – I’m not leaving that off the table,” Spaay added. “From a business standpoint, we’ll renew our liquor license and keep our restaurant license current.”
Spaay, who will be 64 in August, has plans to keep busy long after Ella’s closing day. “I’m going to play with my seven-year-old granddaughter and my seven-month-old granddaughter,” he said. “I also do a little construction on the side – I’d like to do more with Habitat for Humanity and service-oriented things like that. I’d like to pay it forward.”
People are at the heart of what Spaay will miss the most after Ella’s closes. “Absolutely people,” he said. “The daily customer contact – the friendships that have been made here are timeless, absolutely timeless.”
He is grateful that Ella’s has played a role in the relationships of many customers over the decades. “There are people married now who met and first established their relationships at Ella’s,” Spaay said. “There’s one couple married for 22 years now – you can’t make this stuff up. There’s so many stories you can write a book on this, and you’d never be done.”
The Spaays will continue to own the establishment’s building although they have “absolutely nothing” planned at the moment. “We are open to options, but we are prepared to be gone, and it’s time,” Spaay said.
He is proud of Ella’s reputation, which he described as a responsible server with staff that cares for its customers. Spaay has witnessed “kids of kids of kids” – in college at the time – come through the doors throughout the years.
“It’s been such a privilege to see these young people at this time in their life, at that stage, and watch them grow,” he said.
Ella’s will be open from 11 AM – 11 PM before closing its doors on Wednesday. For more information find “Ella’s In Point” on Facebook or call 715-341-1871.