Meet Michael the New GM at the Stella Hotel & Ballroom

Meet Michael the New GM at the Stella Hotel & Ballroom

We sit down w/ for this exclusive interview w/ the new general manager of the Stella Hotel & Ballroom, Michael Carstedt.

Can you describe what a night stay at the Stella is like?
A night spent at the Stella is like taking a step back in time with the building’s rich history, coupled with an up to date modern twist offering first class service,  made from scratch food options and an endless craft cocktail list

What do you like about working in Downtown Kenosha?
Working in Downtown Kenosha provides us the privilege and opportunity to work closely and partner with the local community, businesses, and up and coming entrepreneurs to ensure the overall growth of the community and insuring everyone’s success at insuring Kenosha is a top destination for all, both out of town guests and residents.

Photos courtesy of the Stella Hotel

What does the Stella have planned for the summer?
What doesn’t the Stella have planned for the summer? We just rolled out a brand-new seasonal craft cocktail list and a completely revamped, made from scratch food menu offering authentic rustic fare in all 3 of our onsite dining options; 1844 Table & Mash, our rooftop bar The Crow’s Nest, and the Stella Café . The Crows Nest will be the place to be this summer with thirst quenching drinks, entertainment, and spectacular views.

What would you say is your signature drink/meal at the 1844 table & Mash?
With so many great featured items on our new menu it’s hard to choose just one- My personal favorite would be the Espresso martini (No Baileys), Buffalo Chicken Egg Rolls, and our Maple Bourbon Bacon BBQ Rack of Ribs. A close second is the Brandy Old Fashioned, beer nuggets, and Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich

The Stella has one of if not the best rooftop bars (the Crows Nest) in the area, what goes into making it the place to be in the summer?
A good time always starts with great company, creative drink selection, modest but savory food options, sunshine, and a Margaritaville-like vibe. All you have to do is show up and we’ll provide the rest

Photo by Donny Stancato

What are a few of your favorite things about your job?
The chance to meet such great people whether they’re visitors or local residents;  the ability to provide them a genuine Midwest experience accompanied by first-class service, while working with and leading an amazing team

What is a typical day like at the Stella for you?
No 2 days are alike. meeting new guests, people and businesses in the community, while hosting events in our banquet space. Spending minimal time in the office and more with visitors and the people of Kenosha provides us the luxury of continuously having tomorrow be better than the day before.

Photo by Donny Stancato

Where do you see the Stella in 5 years?
With Kenosha flourishing at such a rapid rate, giving Stella the opportunity to house new and returning visitors, while creating new offerings to the area. Stella will be the place you want to stay or simply bring your friends, family, and/or team to gather, dine, and have a good time for that genuine “unique” experience

What is the first impression you want from your guests when they come to the Stella Hotel?
You only get one shot at first impressions, and simply by standing at the bottom of the stairs before entering the lobby it’s been made knowing you’re walking into a piece of history specific to Kenosha. Once you walk through the lobby doors the modern boutique twist creates a feeling like no other chain or brand can compete with

Why do you think the Stella is considered so iconic in the city?
Built in 1917, on the land where the Petit Malt House used to stand, The Stella was formally the Kenosha Elk’s Club which featured a swimming pool, numerous dining facilities, and even a hotel. Throughout the years the club hosted numerous special guests including Mel Tormé’ and Colonel Sanders. Later it would become the Heritage Club and, in the summer of 2019, The Stella Hotel. Historically it has been such a significant gathering place for the community and our goal is to carry on that tradition.

Photo by Donny Stancato

The Stella building has a rich history in Kenosha, are there any parts of the hotel’s history that stand out for you?
Even though completely renovated, many historical features were preserved such as the Grand Ballroom and even the original tile pillars from the old pool.

What else can people look forward to at the Stella?
Aside from the seasonal rotating menu created in our scratch kitchen, ever changing specials, fun atmosphere, décor, you can always look forward to a unique experience only The Stella can offer. Because we have such a wide variety of services from guest rooms for overnight guests, bakery and coffee, meeting rooms, restaurant and bar with a welcoming, casual atmosphere, event space, and rooftop bar – we can meet any want or need that someone has. And we can meet that need with an exceptional staff that strives to provide a unique experience for everyone that comes through our doors.

What are some highlights so far as new general manager of The Stella Hotel & Ballroom?
With too many to mention, I would have to say overall I’m ecstatic and excited to find how great the hotel and Kenosha is as a whole today, and even more, where its headed in the future

Can you tell us a little about your background & how you decided that the Stella was a perfect fit for you?
I’ve been in hotels going on 16 years now;  traveled the country working with Wyndham Corporate for 6 years while living in Boston MA, relocated back home to Wisconsin as an Area General Manager of 2 resorts in Northern WI and Upper Michigan, returning back to the SE area of the state where I was born and raised finding this fortunate opportunity at the Stella located in one of the most genuine towns I’ve had the pleasure of residing in

What are some goals that you have in the future, both personally and for The Stella?
For the Stella; collectively with our team we’re going to take this property to a different level where it belongs, for it’s guests and the community. As anyone from the area can attest the last couple years have been a challenge, but seeing the resilience and growth happening today within Kenosha I know The Stella will soon become the place to be. A personal goal of mine is to finally settle down in the area and have a family of my own

Photo by Donny Stancato

Best piece of advice you have ever received?
When I was young my dad told my two younger brothers and I to always be coachable. I practice this every day in my personal life and at work as I hire based on attitude and the ability to be receptive over skill set. No one is perfect, I look at perfection more as a goal rather than expectation as we strive to be a better person today than we were yesterday.

When did you know you wanted to pursue a career in hotel management?
After high school I decided to go to school to become a police officer. Shortly after some on the job experience and realizing it takes someone more special than me for such a role, I recognized that I wanted to have the ability to give people a memorable experience in hospitality. I returned to school and pursued hotel management. Since then I’ve never looked at work as work but rather doing what I love

Who has most influenced your career—teacher, coworker, family member, boss—and what did that person teach you?
My father, a retired Captain for the Milwaukee Fire Department, and mother, a flight attendant for Southwest. Growing up my parents were, and still are, complete opposites, which couldn’t be more of a blessing having been raised by them. They are thee absolute best parents anyone could ask for in my eyes. My mother taught us empathy and how to make any situation a fun time. My dad taught us that whatever you do, do it with respect and integrity.

How would you describe tourism in Kenosha right now?
Conveniently located between Milwaukee and Chicago I believe there’s a lot of opportunity on top of what we already have going on today. Having only lived here for 1 month I see how busy the area is already and once temperatures rise and beautiful Wisconsin weather is here, that will only increase as new businesses continue to open and create more offerings to the area

What sort of vision did you bring to the new role as GM of the Stella?
A vision of open mindedness, goal orientated, teamwork mentality, results driven, and community.

What do you personally love about your Hotel?
The staff, Gorman and Company, the community in where it’s located, and the rich history.

5706 8th Avenue • • 262-842-200 • FacebookInstagram
(This article first appeared in Vol 16. #2 2023 Go Downtown Kenosha Magazine)

Q&A by Donny Stancato
Photos by Donny Stancato & some courtesy of the Stella Hotel and Ballroom

Follow the Go Downtown Kenosha Magazine on Facebook & Instagram
For everything Kenosha see