KML Board: GM not fired; position was cut

EAGLE RIVER — Keweenaw Mountain Lodge Board members are disputing a report that the general manager of the lodge was fired at a meeting on Friday.

“The general manager was not fired,” said Jim Vivian, who as a County Board member also sits on the KML Board. “The general manager position was terminated due to reduced responsibilities and financial concerns.”

Board Chairman Don Piche reiterated Vivian’s statement, saying Debra Britz-Maier, KML general manager, was not fired. The position she held was eliminated, he said.

“We terminated that position because it’s not needed anymore,” Piche said, “because the restaurant will be closed, and the events will be catered.”

Piche said the board needed to take steps to reduce operating costs at the lodge, and restaurant was one of the items focused on.

In factoring in employee and food purchasing costs versus profits, the restaurant operation simply was unsustainable.

“The reasons the restaurant was closed was that it never made any money,” Piche said. “We reduced the operations, because the only thing that made money were the cabins.”

While the decision has been made to close the restaurant, the lodge will keep the bar open, which will also serve a limited “pub menu,” although the menu items to be offered have not been finalized yet.

Britz-Maier had been working through the winter scheduling the coming summer’s events. However, with the reduction of operations at the lodge, the position of general manager was no longer warranted.

“What we did was, we kept her on for two more weeks,” Piche said, “to get all the wedding and events and calendar in order, which she and (board member) Sandy (Gayk) have been working very swiftly on, and that will be in order very soon.”

Britz-Maier was given a severance package as part of the elimination of the position.