Owner Mike Jackson stands behind
the historic bar at C. Wiesler’s on Washington Avenue in
Cedarburg. While the building dates to 1885, Jackson is
celebrating the current business’
Photo by Mark
Though owner Mike Jackson didn’t have any experience in the
restaurant industry prior to opening C. Wiesler’s Saloon and
Eatery in Cedarburg, he jumped at the chance to own his own
business in the town where he was born and raised.
“At the time I was selling tools and was offered a job to move
to Rockford, Ill.,” said Jackson. “I didn’t really want to go to
Rockford – I wanted to stay in the area.”
Luckily, family friend Bill Henke of Henke & Associates had just
bought the historic building at W61 N493 Washington Ave. and
planned to set up his ad agency on the second floor. “ I
proposed putting a bar and restaurant on the first floor and
they decided that might be a good idea,” said Jackson.
This year, C. Wiesler’s is celebrating a quarter century in
business. Jackson opened the restaurant in late 1988 at the age
of 26, choosing the name C. Wiesler’s to honor the Wiesler
brothers who owned the historic building, which was built in
Crowds pack C. Wiesler’s patio
during the recent Wine & Harvest Festival.
Photos by Mark Justesen
“I wanted to keep some of
the history,” he said. “Actually, one of the Wiesler brothers
had a bar downstairs and his family lived (there) in a
sectioned-off area, and his brother was a dentist upstairs with
Before opening the doors, Jackson had to do extensive
renovations to the first floor of the building.
“It was in pretty rough shape,” he said. “There were holes in
the floor, the walls were beat up. We pulled out a few walls and
exposed some of the brick on the inside of the chimney. A lot of
the renovation was through Bill Henke and Don Levy. They were
able to find the old antique bar that we have in there in
Mineral Point – that bar dates back to 1892.”
In the late ’80s, C. Wiesler’s Saloon and Eatery sold only cold
sandwiches and alcohol. It wasn’t until the restaurant had been
open for several years that a grill and fryer were added to the
kitchen, and “things took off there for a while. We started
doing our fish fries, and we bought the building a few years
Photo by Mark Justesen
And though the
Cedarburg community is generally supportive of local
businesses, said Jackson, keeping a business going for
almost 26 years isn’t easy, especially on the south side of
the downtown area, where other restaurants have come and
gone and tourists don’t usually venture on the weekends.
C. Wiesler’s stays competitive by switching up its menu and
incorporating specialty sandwiches. Several additions to the
burger line-up were made this spring, including the
Margarita Burger, which features fresh mozzarella cheese, a
balsamic glaze and Key West mayo, and the Bourbon Street
Burger, a chuck patty with bourbon glaze, fried onions
strips and blue cheese.
“We always try to get a little more creative now, trying
some different things as far as different types of
sandwiches, burgers and chicken,” said Jackson. “People are
looking for that.”
Photo by Mark Justesen
The restaurant has
also spruced up its appearance recently, adding a lounge
area in its front room to attract the after-work crowd.
So what’s the secret to operating a business in Cedarburg
for so long? Do the work yourself, said Jackson.
C. Wiesler’s has about 10 to 15 employees, depending on the
season, but Jackson says he personally puts in more than 80
hours per week.
“I’m still cleaning the toilets,” he joked. “My wife and I
have two kids in college, and they definitely come home and
put in their time at the restaurant during the summer.”