MTV reality show could showcase Fitchburg restaurant

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Posted by on August 21, 2009 at 09:56:30:

Good Times on TV?: MTV reality show could showcase Fitchburg restaurant

Susan Troller � TCT 8/20/2009 5:15 pm

The end may be near for Good Times, but it appears the Fitchburg restaurant has an interesting future, including the possibility that it will be the setting for a TV reality show.

In fact, new owner/manager Kelli Keyzers won the restaurant in a competition with 700 other would-be restaurateurs.

The competition, called "American Dream," was taped as pilot, and was organized and hosted by Chris Peterson, former owner of Good Times who has turned over his share in the business as part of the contest. Peterson will continue for one year as director of operations with an annual salary of $1, he said.

Peterson said the business model involves Keyzers as an owner/partner with investors from Chicago. In a Wisconsin State Journal story last April, Peterson was quoted as saying that the position as co-owner of the restaurant was worth about $250,000.

He noted that the pilot has not yet sold, but said that MTV was planning a taping session at Good Times this week.

The name of Keyzers' new venture is Kickshaw, which is a restaurant slang phrase meaning "fancy plate" or "delicious bites." She will oversee the last couple weeks of the operation of Good Times and in September the restaurant will close for renovation, with a scheduled reopening at the end of September or early October.

Keyzers, 32, is a Minnesota native who grew up in Sauk Prairie. She has extensive restaurant, catering and special event planning experience, honed in management positions in Chicago, Minneapolis and Indianapolis. She and her husband returned to the Madison area three years ago, and she has been a manager at the new Vitense Golfland, helping that business develop its brand beyond Par 3, driving range and mini-golf. She has a 1-year-old son.

"It was always my goal to run my own business and have my own restaurant so this really is a dream come true for me," Keyzers said in an interview this week.

Taping for the competition took place over a four-month period, and involved auditions, interviews and working in competing culinary teams.

Keyzer said she was chosen to be part of a group of 25 hopefuls who began going through the vetting process at Peterson's Country Inn and Suites hotel on Nesbitt Road.

"We interacted with each other, talking about our experience and our ideas. I figured, 'If you choose me or not, this is still the direction I'm moving in in my life, and I'm well suited to being in this mix,' " she recalled.

But when she was notified that she was part of the group of 12 finalists who would be competing at the restaurant for the grand prize, she was still stunned.

"I screamed! I was very excited, but I also felt comfortable that I could do it. I trusted in my skills and the concept I wanted to develop," she said.

Kickshaw will offer both a standard menu with entrees in the $18 to $22 range and a daily chef's menu that will allow the kitchen to focus on seasonal and local ingredients, she said, adding that the cuisine would have a variety of global influences.

"Everybody talks about good services but it's what makes or breaks a restaurant. I'd like our restaurant to do a little more, go beyond the ordinary," she added.

That could, she said, include things like valet service.

When asked how she'd react if the "American Dream" competition is broadcast on television as a reality show, Keyzers laughed.

"Every day I feel like I'm living a reality show. It's pretty amazing," she said.

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