Building to retain Schwai’s name in Cedar Creek

By JUDY STEFFES - Special to The Daily News

April 6, 2015

TOWN OF POLK - Significant progress is being made on the former Schwai’s, 3747 Cedar Creek Road. Kevin and Amy Zimmer have been working to extensively renovate the building since last August.

“We put in a new main entrance in the old back of the building, expanded the primary dining room, the kitchen has been entirely rebuilt and the upstairs banquet hall now has a cathedral ceiling and its own bathrooms,” Kevin Zimmer said.

During a recent tour, the Zimmer’s showed off some of the new artistic detail, including what’s now the longest concrete bar top in Washington County.

“Duquaine Concrete poured and installed it,” Zimmer said. “We’ve stayed with all local contractors on this project.”

The renovation of the building, which dates to the 1800s, has been full of structural surprises including bowed and dry rotted beams in the basement, the removal of five chimneys and the discovery of several rolls of original bathroom wallpaper. “We found it underneath the very bottom of the last step to the old apartment,” said Zimmer. “The Schwai’s wallpapered the old restaurant’s bathrooms in 1972 and we found enough of the red, white, and blue floral patterned material to completely cover the women’s bathroom.”

Zimmer said the bathroom will look exactly as people remember it.

“They will stutter step when they walk in — it’s truly a step back in time,” he said.

Another memorable piece of the Schwai history had to be replaced as the floor on the second level was far from structurally sound.

“When there were parties upstairs the floor would bounce,” Zimmer said.

During the remodel, contractors found some sections of the maple floor had been sanded down several times and in spots only measured 5/16ths- to 3/8ths-inch thick.

The ceiling on the second floor shows some remnants of a fire in the rafters. The Zimmers are keeping the blackened beams in place; they’ve vaulted and exposed the original hand-hewn hardwood beams which opens up the second floor and gives it an old-barn feeling.

“It’s going to be such a nostalgic look,” Zimmer said.

With a strong commitment to the local history, the Zimmers will open the business under the former name, Schwai’s.

“This building has been Schwai’s for a longer time than it’s been anything else,” Amy Zimmer said. “It’s those feel-good feelings we want people to have when they come into this building.”

The Zimmer’s reached a contract agreement on the name with the Schwai family; that agreement will stand as long as the property is titled in the Zimmer’s name. “An even better partnership is the Schwai’s are lending us some of the original wall hangings and decor which include a 1944 class picture from Slinger school which shows Joe Schwai right in the middle,” Kevin Zimmer said.

Over the past two weeks the Zimmers received their state-approved plans and the town of Polk approved the business-use request for the property. The Zimmers are getting the building ready for business as well as searching for a management team “committed to good food and fantastic customer service, with several ties to the past.”