Local Business Spotlight: Up Yonder
Kalli Hawkins

Local Business Spotlight: Up Yonder

The Local Business Spotlight highlights our local business community’s economic strength and innovation. This feature is brought to you in partnership with Visit Cook County and the Cook County Chamber of Commerce.

In mid-Dec., the staff and owners of Up Yonder celebrated the one-year mark of opening the business. 

The business, owned and operated by Cassidy Gecas and Britt Zieroth, officially opened Up Yonder on Dec. 16, 2022, with the Cook County Snowmobile Club membership kick-off party. 

Throughout the past year, Gecas said, for the most part, everything this year went smoothly, and he has learned a lot “about what we can make better next year.”

Since purchasing the business, formerly known as Harbor Light, from the Rude family, Gecas and the Up Yonder crew have been hard at work remodeling the existing building and grounds. The entire property includes the restaurant, campground, outdoor bar, and stage.

While Gecas changed the business’s name, given the long history of Harbor Light, he left the sign on the building and included ‘Up Yonder at Harbor Light’ in the new name. 

With the newly updated space, Up Yonder has hosted numerous large community events throughout the past year, including weddings, a celebration of life party, trivia nights, Empty Bowls, and in Oct. 2023, the Fall Gala hosted by Visit Cook County and the Cook County Chamber of Commerce. 

The Fall Gala was a celebration for the owners of Up Yonder. In addition to hosting the 12th annual event where over 200 community members gathered, the Gecas and Zieroth received an award for Business of the Year. 

“It was just fulfilling really to be actually able to have a space in town again to host an event or something of that size,” Gecas said. “That was the main point of getting this place open.”

Zieroth said, “We had wonderful staff that night that actually let us hang out with everyone and visit and see people in the community, and we couldn’t do it without the community and support that we’ve had this last year.”

As Gecas and Zieroth plan for Up Yonder’s future, they intend to focus on expanding the music scene by hosting music festivals and outdoor music. Another area of focus will be creating year-round employee housing. Currently, the campground is mainly used for staffing, but given the inability to offer it year-round, it has presented some challenges for staffing.

“Those are employee housing for the summertime people,” Gecas said. “They like it. They have fun here. So that’s what we can do right now. It’s all we can do.”

WTIP’s Kalli Hawkins spoke with Cassidy Gecas and Britt Zieroth, owners and operators of Up Yonder, in the latest edition of the Local Business Spotlight, which is produced in collaboration with Visit Cook County and the Cook County Chamber of Commerce. Audio from the feature is below.