CALEDONIA — Area businessman Akil Ajmeri saw a friend’s summertime-only business and just couldn’t leave it that way, so Ajmeri is now building Buddies Lounge inside Mulligan’s Mini Golf, 6633 Douglas Ave.
The property will be half-owned by him and half by his friend Jim Ladwig, president of Racine Area Manufacturers and Commerce, and his wife Debbie.
Tuesday evening the Caledonia Plan Commission unanimously recommended approval of Ajmeri’s request for a conditional-use amendment to renovate the existing building and open Buddies Lounge.
Ajmeri described sweeping changes he’ll make to the 1854 building with the Tabor name on the façade.
In its early years, the building contained a general store, tavern, implement shop and post office and served as a meeting place for residents, many of them Bohemian settlers. It was run by John Elias in what was known as the Tabor neighborhood, according to the Village of Caledonia website.
Both floors of the building have been gutted to their brick walls and approximately 16-foot ceilings. The counter for golf activities and bathrooms will be relocated to just inside the north-side entrance, and a walk-up window will be installed facing the driving range.
That way, Ajmeri explained, families can conduct their business without entering the lounge that will occupy the main long, rectangular rooms on both floors.
Much larger windows will be installed, and Ajmeri is keeping brick walls exposed. Each floor will have its own long, central bar, and multiple television screens will be added.
For food, Buddies will serve light fare only.
Outside, the building will have a faux stone veneer over the blue, painted brick exterior.
A new patio will be added and the existing wooden one rebuilt, Ajmeri said.
In an effort to further extend the season for golf activities, he will have clear, covered, three-sided, heated cages built around eight of the 20 driving range tees that are on concrete pads.
People who want to whack a bucket of balls early or late in the year will be warmed from above by electric heaters in hitting cages that will be controlled individually — at no extra charge, Ajmeri said.
Buddies Lounge should be finished before winter, he said.