Mike Jackson, C. Wiesler’s celebrate 30th anniversary

By LAURIE ARENDT - Freeman Staff

Oct. 26, 2018

CEDARBURG - There’s a bit of irony in the fact that 30 years ago, Mike Jackson turned down a job offer to open C. Wiesler’s in downtown Cedarburg.

“I was offered a job that required me to move to Rockford, Illinois he said. “I really didn’t want to go down there.”

Conrad Wiesler, the business’ namesake whose name still graces the outside of the building, seems to have felt the same way about our neighbor state to the south as well. A German immigrant, he spent almost a decade engaged in farming and business  in Illinois before also apparently realizing that life was finer in Wisconsin. That, and according to some genealogical information found online, he and his wife were also possibly affected by the Great Chicago Fire.

In 1876, he came to Cedarburg and according to historical records, engaged himself in saloon work and farming.

“As far as I know, this has always been a bar,” said Jackson of the building that has hosted his own establishment for the past 30 years.

You have to start somewhere, and the opportunity for Jackson to open his own bar was somewhat serendipitous in addition to helping him avoid that new job and moving to Illinois.

“I was friends with Jack Henke in high school and his dad, Bill Henke, had just bought this building,” said Jackson. “I talked to Jack about what they were planning to do with it, and they were going to move their agency into it.”

Jackson had a suggestion: Move their agency upstairs and he would open a bar downstairs.

“It was all new to me, the bar business,” he said. “But I had a son in the business, who still has a place in Port Washington, and I really didn’t want to take that job in Illinois.”

Jackson, together with his wife Teri and his kids, Katy and Bryan, opened C. Wiesler’s. Henke and Associates opened upstairs.

Part of the establishment’s longtime charm is its historic atmosphere, but Jackson shares a little secret about that.

“Yeah, about the only original thing inside is the floor,” he admits. “Everything else has sort of been collected over time.”

He said much of that is due to Bill Henke, with a little help from Don Levy over the years.

“They had their feelers out for stuff everywhere,” he said. “They had people out there looking.”

The bar? It is an antique, circa 1892, but it was transported here from Mineral Point. The National Cash register is from 1914, but it wasn’t original to the establishment, either.

“Everybody loves the ice box,” he adds. “It’s from 1934, and it was moved here from Cleveland, Wisconsin.”

C. Wiesler’s booths didn’t have to travel far, though. They came down the road from where Ryloo Boutique is now located.

“They’re from Gerritt’s Rexall Drugs,” he said.

Evolving menu

Jackson said that while C. Wiesler’s has always been a bar with food service, over time the menu has evolved.

“We always did food,” he said of the early years. “We stared out with just deli sandwiches, and then we added the grill and freezer three or four years later,” he said. “Our most popular menu item is our fish fry - that’s our bread and butter now.”

He said the secret to its appeal is that they use their own marinade for the fish before they grill it and have a special recipe for the beer batter as well.

Over time, C. Wiesler’s has gathered its share of fans and regulars, as well as customers who like to stop in when visiting Cedarburg. Jackson is hoping to host them on Saturday at a special 30-year anniversary party that starts at 11:30 a.m. with food, drink specials, giveaways and karaoke from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m. The event will be held in the parking lot under a special tent.

“We’re sure hoping for some nicer weather,” he said. “But it should be a fun time.”