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His small-town roots, big dreams, and a desire to enjoy life at a slower pace are the same reasons Isaac and I moved back to Bayfield and bought Seagull Bay.
Ben’s story is something I can really relate to.
We recently stole away for a long overdue date night at one of the best restaurants near Bayfield, Good Thyme Restaurant. Located in Washburn, WI, it’s a short 10-minute drive from Seagull Bay.
Here, we’re reacquainted with Ben Thoen, owner and chef of Good Thyme. Not only did Ben attend school with Isaac and his brothers, but his story carried similar themes to ours.
For a long time, Good Thyme has been one of our top recommendations to our guests. And our recent visit really honed in on why.
So, when it came to thinking of new blog ideas, I couldn’t think of anything better than to feature Good Thyme. Not only is it one of the best restaurants near Bayfield, but it’s also open year-round.
So grab your fork and let’s dig in.
Good Thyme is a well-established restaurant & catering company in Washburn, WI, originally owned by Renee Holman.
Since the early 2000s, Renee has worked hard at building one of the best restaurants near Bayfield. It’s a brand of good food and hospitality that has stood out in our community.
From its early days in downtown Washburn – before it was destroyed by fire – to the big yellow farmhouse just outside of town, Good Thyme has built a loyal following.
So loyal, in fact, that its new owner, Ben Thoen, has been its biggest fan since he was 11 years old.
Those of us who have ever worked in the restaurant industry know the chaos that can happen when someone doesn’t show up for their shift. And this is exactly how Ben’s story got started.
Renee, a friend of Ben’s dad, was over at this house when she got the call that her dishwasher wasn’t coming in. Without knowing what he was getting into, Ben volunteered for the position.
From the time he tied his apron, he was captivated by the world of hospitality. This sparked a dream come true.
Ben worked with Renee throughout his middle and high school years and then went on to attend Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago. Here, he learned the finer details of cooking methods he had already been using. He learned the importance of hospitality and getting to know everyone in the room.
He expanded his cooking experiences by working at a:
During this time, he always kept in touch with Renee, saying when she was ready, to retire to give him a call.
The call came this past April, and Renee proudly passed the spoon and ladle to Ben. Ben’s dream had come true. He was coming home.
You can feel Good Thyme’s warm and relaxing vibe the moment you walk through its century-old wooden doors.
The light twinkles off of the glassware and rich copper accents.
Crisp white cloths dress the tables, and the eye-catching copper top bar anchors the seating area.
The crackle from the wood-burning brick fireplace invites you to sit back and relax inside the 120-year-old farmhouse.
They truly set the stage for an incredible dining experience.
Despite its elegant atmosphere, you’ll be welcomed with open arms even if you’re dressed in your cross-country ski gear after the Book Across the Bay, your favorite pair of jeans, or when dressing up to celebrate your anniversary.
And on an extra special night, you’ll be greeted by Ben and his partner Sarah’s daughters dolled up in black dresses, playing hostess for an hour or two.
Not only is the big yellow house home to Good Thyme, but the entire second story is Ben and his family’s home. You might even catch a glimpse of Roux, their black lab, when someone forgets to close a door.
For Ben, this is not just a job – this is his life.
His heart and soul are at Good Thyme, and his passion continues to elevate the culture and tone it’s known for. Making it one of the best restaurants near Bayfield.
It’s not just about beautiful decor – it’s about what you feel when you walk through the doors. And of course, what you taste.
One of the first things Ben did when he stepped into Good Thyme as owner and head chef was walk back to the kitchen. There, he found familiar cookbooks with handwritten recipes he helped develop during his middle and high school years – recipes that had become signature dishes on the menu.
Ben’s goal was to bring back these beloved dishes that had built such a loyal following since the early days in downtown Washburn – things like Mediterranean pork roulade and pasta night.
Some dishes will never go away, like the:
The flavors of Good Thyme are what people know and trust. It’s what Ben grew up knowing and falling in love with. It’s what welcomes each and every person who walks through the door of one of the best restaurants near Bayfield.
Next time you visit us at Seagull Bay, we encourage you to stop in at Good Thyme, say hi to Ben, and enjoy one of the best culinary traditions in our area.
In fact, we’ve written a seasonal adventure guide to help you plan your Bayfield, WI getaway. Make sure you join our email list on our new website, and you’ll receive your adventure guide right in your inbox.
The guide is broken up into seasons with recommendations that’ll make your vacation one you won’t forget. And, of course, you’ll find Good Thyme Restaurant & Catering featured as one of the best restaurants near Bayfield, WI.
Enjoy the View!
Mollie, Isaac, Axel, Ridge, and Banks
November 8, 2023
Bayfield is brimming with outdoor adventures, local events, and renowned festivals.
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