The Verona Woods

The Verona Woods, 958 Liberty Dr., Verona, closed for good on Sunday.

The Turner family has closed its Sun Prairie restaurant after five years and its Verona restaurant after two years, citing a tough business climate.

"Unfortunately we struggled -- a lot," Steve Turner said about The Verona Woods in Verona and the more casual Willie Ty's Eatery in Sun Prairie.

Turner, who owned the restaurants with his wife, Kelly Turner, and their son and chef, Christian "Willie" Turner, said Fridays and Saturdays were always good in Verona, but they had a hard time drawing crowds Sunday through Thursday.

In Sun Prairie, he said, they were the victim of so many new restaurants in the area. Willie Ty's was across from Sun Prairie High School, and built into the side of the Sun Prairie Ice Arena, which also opened in 2014. It had its own separate entrance and design.

The restaurant did well during hockey season, but was slow the rest of the year, Turner said.

Willie Ty's had it's last day Friday. Verona Woods closed Sunday.

"It's a very, very sad day," Turner said. "It's very fresh and we're struggling, but it's just, 'Hey, you took a shot and you tried to make people happy,' and I feel we did that at least while we were here. It's just unfortunately the business climate and maybe the locations kind of hurt us a little bit."

In Verona, the area just never got developed the way the developer said it would, he said.

In February, 4 Sisters, a seafood-focused tapas and wine bar, closed 15 months after it opened in the same complex as Verona Woods.

The 5,900-square-foot Verona Woods, was at 958 Liberty Drive, on Highway M, in a newly-developing area of Verona across from Sugar River Pizza Company.

The Verona Woods offered a menu with burgers, salads and sandwiches, but diners could go more upscale with seafood entrées, steaks and chops.

Turner said that restaurant space, along with the Sun Prairie spot, will be turned back over to the landlord.

As for the next move for Turner and his son, he said nothing's definite. The younger Turner, who spent four years honing his skills at the Culinary Institute of America in New York, will stay in the restaurant business, possibly working for one of the big food vendors, his father said. That way, he can stay active with restaurants and chefs, Turner said.

The elder Turner said he may return to the commercial real estate market.

"It's so fresh. We don't really know," he said. "We're still pretty upset and obviously we gave our heart and soul to this thing for two years here in Verona, and five years in Sun Prairie with Willie Ty's, and unfortunately, I think we're a casualty of this business environment right now a little bit."

Read more restaurant news at go.madison.com/restaurantnews.


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