Spotlight on Kenneth Murray of The Apis Hotel and Restaurant

The Apis Hotel and Restaurant

“There’s no space that looks quite like this in downtown Kenosha, and I think that goes a long way to help transport the guest into a unique space and remind them that they’re here at The Apis.” – Ken

Stay, dine, and celebrate at The Apis Hotel & Restaurant, a uniquely distinct experience for locals and visitors alike. We decided to learn more about The Apis as we made a reservation to sit down and chat with Kenneth Murray, the Director of Wine Programs and the Event Manager of the Grease & Honey Restaurant Family.

Q. Can you give us a little rundown of the history of this hotel and restaurant?
Ken: Absolutely. The Apis Hotel and Restaurant was opened in July of 2020. A very interesting time for us to open a business, but the project had been underway for some time, and we occupy a space that was originally constructed as the Isman Brothers Department Store, the first department store in downtown Kenosha. A long-time men’s clothier, it’s quite interesting because from time to time, we have guests that come in and tell us about their grandparents or relatives who worked here. The building has had a few lifetimes or a few lives in between its initial construction and what it is today. So it’s always fun to hear stories from residents of Kenosha about what they remember this building as.

Q. Can you describe the products and services that The Apis Hotel and Restaurant provide?
Ken: Here at The Apis Hotel and Restaurant, we provide a diverse set of services, all centered around our restaurant. We’re primarily a restaurant, but we also have six gorgeously appointed guest rooms, making us a boutique hotel on our second level. Additionally, we offer a whole suite of event services, including weddings for up to 100 guests, both casual and formal affairs, social events, showers, and rehearsal dinners for group sizes under 100.

Q. What makes The Apis stand out among the many great businesses downtown?
Ken: As you know, there are a ton of great businesses downtown, but I think one thing that strikes a lot of our clientele when they enter The Apis is the scene that’s been constructed here. There’s no space that looks quite like this in downtown Kenosha, and I think that goes a long way to help transport the guest into a unique space and remind them that they’re here at The Apis.

Q. What is something about downtown Kenosha that you would like new or future residents to know about?
Ken: Having lived in downtown Kenosha for just the last 10 years (I’m not originally from here), I quickly fell in love with this place. I think newcomers or new residents should know that downtown Kenosha is vibrant, very walkable, family-friendly, and there’s a little something here for everyone. Personally, my wife and I have two young daughters, and our routine on the weekends involves heading out the front door for a short walk to downtown Kenosha. We enjoy visiting both the Kenosha HarborMarket and the Kenosha Public Market. Usually, we stop and grab a coffee at the Buzz; it’s a great start to a Saturday.

Q. How do you stay up on all the industry trends?
Ken: It can be a challenge, especially when a lot of operators, including ourselves, find ourselves quite busy. It’s hard to sometimes move beyond the four walls that we’re within, with our focus obviously on the day-to-day operation. But with our staff, some of our favorite things to do are to dine outside of Kenosha, with proximity to both Chicago and the Milwaukee metro areas. There are a lot of things to explore even within a half-day or a day that we might have off. There’s a great group of businesses with a lot of collaborative energy downtown. So, we love spending time with other business owners and operators and enjoy seeing everything that downtown has to offer.

Q. Can you tell us what a day in the life as the event manager at The Apis is like?
Ken: My day typically starts about 9:30. I come into work after I drop my kids off at daycare, and usually, I’m focused on communicating with clientele about events that have just happened or about events that they’re planning. We gear up for dinner service each night, beginning at four. So as we move into the afternoon, a lot of our staff comes in to begin to prepare dinner and get the space ready for the evening’s dinner service. A lot of our events are produced on evenings and weekends, so it’s kind of a nonstop thing. No day’s the same. There’s a lot of diversity, a lot of changes, a lot of things that come up that we just have to deal with. And that’s one of the things I like most about working in this business. Hospitality can be quite easy when we just remember that the guest is at the center of what we’re doing. But it never gets stale because, again, each client, each guest is unique and they may have different needs. So working to anticipate those needs and ultimately provide them with the best experience possible, that’s what we love to do here at The Apis.

Q. What is next for The Apis?
Ken: It’s spring, so we’re eagerly anticipating summer and the opening of our rooftop bar for the season! We’re also planning a full slate of food & beverage events, with new tastings and dinners added all the time. Some events on the horizon include our Kentucky Derby and Cinco de Mayo Rooftop Parties, a Rosé Wine Masterclass, a Bourbon Dinner and Whiskey Masterclass with Masters Blender Joe Henry of J. Henry & Sons, craft beer events including dinners & seminars with O’so Brewing, Brooklyn Brewing, Blake’s Cider, and New Glarus Brewing. Plus more food & beverage events to be announced!
For a full calendar of upcoming events and to secure tickets, guests can visit our event page online at

The Apis Hotel and Restaurant  614 – 56th Street
(262) 220-7120
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Q&A, photos and concept by Donny Stancato & Jenna Zeihen • Edited by Meridith Jumisko, Jenna Zeihen & Donny Stancato