Kaap's history restored at Neville Museum


Green Bay - A part of Green Bay history is coming back to life. Kaap's Restaurant hasn't been around in nearly 35 years, but the Neville Public Museum is looking to recreate the iconic landmark through a restoration project.

Kaap's Restaurant and its candy counter became a regular visitor for many heading to downtown Green Bay. The restaurant opened in 1914, and said goodbye in 1980 when the building on Washington Street was torn down.

"I can remember very well going into it on Washington Street when I was a teenager go in with my folks to get ice cream or something, said Jim Reynard of Green Bay.

The name Kaap's still brings up fond memories.

"I have wonderful memories as a young fellow going to Kaap's sitting in the booth. Wonderful memories," said Bill Robillard.

Bill Robillard will use his childhood connection to the restaurant to help recreate a little piece of it for others to enjoy and reminisce. Robillard is a professional restorer.

"Restoration is really a quarter history, knowing your history, a quarter art, a quarter chemistry and a quarter furniture making," explained Robillard.

He's been hired to build a complete Kaap's booth and candy counter for display at the Neville Public Museum. Various parts of several Kaap's booths have been donated to the museum over the years. And the time is now to bring the Green Bay experience back to life.

"This marble is likely from Northern France or Italy," said Robillard pointing to the bottom of an original candy counter. "This will be cleaned and the sheen brought back out the way it would have looked had it been properly maintained."

Robillard's work is expected to take 16 weeks. And the public is invited to check out the restoration process and watch Robillard work on select days. Perhaps even exchange a Kaap's story or two.

The scratches from sliding into the booth, and even the gum under the seat won't be erased. Restoration will seal in the history without losing it when it's all done.

"I'm glad to see they're back and being restored. That's great," said Reynard.

"So it looks like a well used, well worn antique but well cared for," said Robillard.

You can meet Robillard and learn about the restoration process Saturdays through August 2, and Wednesdays through July 30 from 2pm to 6pm. Future dates will be announced until the restoration work is complete in late October.

Financial support for the restoration work is being funded in part by the Green Bay and De Pere Antiquarian Society and the Kaap Charitable Trust.