Silver anniversary
C. Wiesler’s Saloon and Eatery marks 25 years in Cedarburg

By Colleen Jurkiewicz - News Graphic Correspondent

Sept. 30, 2014

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’ 25th anniversary. 
Photo by Mark Justesen

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 1885.

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 his family.”

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 ago.”

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.”