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Check In Again: The Oxbow Hotel, Lakely Restaurant Reopening June 1

after yearlong COVID-19 closure, businesses readying for guests

Tom Giffey |

The patio outside The Lakely and Oxbow.
The patio outside The Lakely and Oxbow.

Almost exactly a year after announcing a temporary shutdown amid the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Oxbow Hotel and its restaurant, The Lakely, have announced they will reopen June 1.

The Oxbow – a downtown, boutique hotel with 30 rooms housed in two vintage buildings – “will reopen in full capacity,” a media release this week said. The hotel, located at 516 Galloway St., will continue “to offer hotel guests with unique experiences, albeit in slightly different ways that ensure guest safety and build connection through safe, socially distant experiences,” the announcement said.

Meanwhile, The Lakely – the hotel’s farm-to-fork restaurant and bar – will open for limited in-person dining inside and season open-air dining outside, as well as offer a “pivot towards new and exciting room service and carryout options.”

We’ve been looking forward to our reopening since the day we closed our doors.



“We’ve been looking forward to our reopening since the day we closed our doors,” said Cassandra Lueck, The Oxbow’s events and marketing director. “We’re passionate about sharing the Oxbow experience with our community here in Eau Claire, and with guests who stay with us from near and far. … When we’re not able to do that, it feels like part of the local heartbeat diminishes. The Oxbow truly is a mecca for folks celebrating the arts, music, and local culture, and we couldn’t be more excited to reopen our doors and get those people back in here.”

The Oxbow opened in October 2016 in a three-story hotel built in 1947 and an adjacent two-story structure built in the 1960s. The mid-century modern hotel and restaurant feature amenities such as in-room record players and a vinyl library, jazz nights, craft cocktails, fire pits, and an outfitters where guests can access bikes, kayaks, and canoes.

Among The Oxbow’s owners are musician Justin Vernon, entrepreneur Zach Halmstad, and Volume One owner/publisher Nick Meyer.

Hospitality faced tough year

The Oxbow is the last local hotel to reopen after closing because of the pandemic, said Benny Anderson, interim executive director of Visit Eau Claire, the local tourism-promotion agency. The hospitality sector was hit particularly hard by the pandemic: For example, room tax collections in the City of Eau Claire declined by 44% from 2019 to 2020, indicating a sharp drop in revenue for hotels and motels.

And while Visit Eau Claire – which gets some of its revenue via those taxes – originally predicted that 2021 room tax collections would be 30% below 2019 levels, Anderson said he’s now optimistic that the sector will begin to bounce back.

The lobby of The Oxbow Hotel.
The lobby of The Oxbow Hotel.