Colin Shepet of Pewaukee
takes a photo of a the tap handles before having a drink
with company Friday night at Sloppy Joe’s in Hubertus.
John Ehlke/Daily News
HUBERTUS — The building at 3723 Hubertus Road, which
houses Sloppy Joe’s Saloon and Spoon, was meant to be a
wasn’t intended was for Joe Hennes and later his wife,
Ellen, to own it.
just wanted to renovate a little piece of our little
downtown in Hubertus, the way it was,” Joe said.
2001, Joe’s inspiration to do something came after
reading “Richfield Remembers The Past.” He grew up on
the family farm about a mile away from the present-day
Sloppy Joe’s. At that time, Joe said the building was
dilapidated and an eyesore.
that book, it showed a beautiful building,” Joe said.
“This was a hustling and bustling little downtown area
of Hubertus. I looked at it (in 2001) and it was
after that, he crossed paths with the owner of the
building and had an engaging conversation.
Eventually, Joe bought the building, doing so in late
2002, and became part of the renovation work for someone
who wanted to lease the building and turn it into a
restaurant. A few months later, the person who had the
lease had to back out and Joe couldn’t do the same. He
didn’t want to.
knew I was about to become a restaurant owner,” Joe
wasn’t ready for the change as he was a guidance
counselor at Brookfield East High School and was in
education for 22 years. His only restaurant experience
was working at Jerry’s Old Town Inn in Germantown when
he was 16.
he couldn’t back out. The building, the eyesore, meant
too much to him.
kind of fall in love with the journey of getting there,”
Joe said. “Once you see it come to life, you’re looking
through it with new eyes. You look at it as you could be
the operator of a nice, family-style restaurant I
thought could be a value within our community.”
opened the doors to Sloppy Joe’s in 2003.
development of Sloppy Joe’s, Joe said, is a credit to
Johnny Meleski from Johnny Manhattan’s, which is across
helped set me up for success,” Joe said.
Sloppy Joe’s gained exposure, notoriety, Joe decided it
was time to step up the offerings.
“I’ve made a strong initiative to do real, authentic
barbecue,” Joe said.
do so, nearly four years ago, Joe purchased a smoker
that sits outside near the patio. Not only can passing
motorists see and smell what’s cooking, Joe said people
have told him they can smell it from miles away.
Figuratively, the smell has drifted well beyond
“Sloppy Joe’s has the best barbecue and fish fry in the
whole county,” said Bill Perkins of Green Bay. “My wife
and I have gone there from Green Bay just to get us some
learn about the ins and outs of serving smoked barbecue,
Joe got help from a friend who also cooked barbecue and
competed in the world championship in Tennessee. Joe
went with the friend one year to help out.
“Since that time, we’ve made investments in attending
regular barbecue classes and seminars, and taking our
staff to that,” Joe said. “People can really see the
difference between somebody who’s trying to do brisket,
barbecue ribs and turkey and chicken compared to
someone’s who doing a really good job at it.”
said it’s been humbling to see people rave about their
barbecue offerings, including visitors from Texas and
Tennessee that have said they’re blown away by Sloppy
Joe’s barbecue taste.
No. 1 seller at the restaurant is the beef brisket. Joe
and his wife got the idea to bring the taste of barbecue
north to Sloppy Joe’s after several vacations to the
“I’ve always loved barbecue,” Joe said, adding being
around some of the authentic places down south piqued
the desire more.
think this is a place that real people expect real
food,” Joe said, adding food off the smoker is
impossible to fake.
cook it with hickory wood and then we finish it with
apple wood,” he said.
Nothing is frozen at Sloppy Joe’s. Well, the ice cream
“It’s just different,” Ellen said. “A lot of people call
(Sloppy Joe’s) their Cheers because everybody knows
establishment has become a hit for Green Bay Packers
the time we’ve been here, we’ve had about 15-20
different Packers players from the Lombardi era to the
1996 Super Bowl champions,” Joe said.
Among them are William Henderson, Fuzzy Thurston,
Antonio Freeman and Gilbert Brown.
that started to happen, that was Joe’s realization
Sloppy Joe’s was on the map, which was impressive
considering Hubertus is not listed as an option
destination on the signs on Interstate 41.
“It’s certainly an eye opener when all of the sudden my
phone rings on a Friday night and it’s Sean Jones, who
is a Super Bowl champion,” Joe said. “He calls and said
he’s heard from several other teammates what a great
stop this is when they fly into Milwaukee and they’re on
their way to Green Bay. So he wanted to make sure I was
here because he wanted to stop by.”
among that group is Joe’s favorite player: Jerry Kramer.
“We’ve gotten to be friends with him since that time,”
restaurant’s slogan is “Where strangers become friends
and where friends become family.” Many things have
happened that validate that with, for example, pictures
scattered throughout the restaurant, including of Joe’s
“Sloppy Joe’s has an incredible selection and the
specials are always delicious,” said Cari Landowski of
Campbellsport. “The service is impeccable and Sloppy
Joe’s truly cares about the customer experience. The
owners and the chef put in their best effort day in and
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