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
offered a job that required me to move to Rockford, Illinois he
said. “I really didn’t want to go down there.”
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.
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
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
loves the ice box,” he adds. “It’s from 1934, and it was
moved here from Cleveland, Wisconsin.”
booths didn’t have to travel far, though. They came down the
road from where Ryloo Boutique is now located.
from Gerritt’s Rexall Drugs,” he said.
that while C. Wiesler’s has always been a bar with food service,
over time the menu has evolved.
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.
sure hoping for some nicer weather,” he said. “But it should
be a fun time.”