160-plus years and counting
Slinger House has long history in restaurant business

By Eileen Mozinski Schmidt - Special to Conley Media

Jan. 23, 2019

 The sign outside the Slinger House Pub & Grille. The property has been in operation since 1857.
Eileen Schmidt/Special to Conley Media

SLINGER — For over 160 years, the building on the corner of West Washington Street and South Kettle Moraine Drive in downtown Slinger has had a tenure in the restaurant and pub business.

“There’s a lot of history here,” said Tracey Smith-Henrickson, who with her husband Dr. Kelly Henrickson currently owns and operates the Slinger House Pub & Grille.

The duo, Hensmith LLC, bought the property about six years ago, and have completed four remodeling projects since, bringing updates to the business while still honoring the history of the building.

Built by George Ippel in 1857 as a tavern, hotel, dance hall, and stable, the original establishment was named “Farmer’s Home,” according to the history of the property on the Slinger House website.

Ippel sought to accommodate farmers coming into the village, then named Schleisingerville, on business and replenishing supplies, according to the website.

 The bar in the renovated hall at the Slinger House Pub & Grille. The property has been in operation since 1857. It was purchased by Tracey Smith-Henrickson and Dr. Kelly Henrickson, of Hensmith LLC, about six years ago. The current owners have completed four remodeling projects since, bringing updates to the business while aiming to honor the history of the building.
Eileen Schmidt/Special to Conley Media

The property was bought in the 1860s by George Frederick Roth and his wife Barbara. The Roth family operated the business for the next 90 years.

“A larger hotel and tavern was built on the existing sturdy field stone foundation utilizing locally produced cream city bricks,” the site says. “The new building was beautiful inside and out and had the latest modern amenities, including gas lighting throughout.”

Others owned the property in the ensuing years. It was named “Kirk’s Korners” in 1973 and then renamed the Slinger House two decades later.

Hensmith LLC became principle owners in 2012.

Smith-Henrickson can describe how the spaces of the building have evolved, all the way back to times when patrons had horses as their mode of transportation.

The current owners have kept Charles Roth’s name visible on the building. The original tin ceiling is in place in the front section of the Slinger House and Smith-Henrickson said the owners sought to replicate the material and style as closely as possibly in adjoining areas.

The owners moved the grill back from the front room, reopened windows that had been covered, and extended the downstairs.

In 2015, the owners completely remodeled the adjoining hall for event space and established a full service kitchen in the lower level, according to Smith-Henrickson.

The hall, named the Slinger House Hall, includes a bar and over 2,000 square feet of floor space and ceilings 13 feet high, according to the business’s website.

 Staff at work Tuesday in the renovated kitchen at the Slinger House Pub & Grille.
Eileen Schmidt/Special to Conley Media

Regional hot spot

Smith-Henrickson said patrons visit the pub and grille from throughout the region.

“We have a pretty diverse group that comes in, as well as our regulars,” she said. “Almost every weekend we have someone who’s never been here before, either because they’ve seen us on Facebook or the website or they’re at the ski hill and came over.”

The Little Switzerland ski hill and recreation area is also located in Slinger, and Pike Lake State Park is also nearby.

The Slinger House has 17 beers on tap and offers as many farm-to-table offerings “as we possibly can,” Smith-Henrickson said. She said the restaurant’s fish fries all feature hand-battered fish, with the batter made per order.

Orchestrating the renovations and operating the business has been work-intensive but rewarding, according to Smith-Henrickson.

“I have about 42 employees, and I feel like our family grew by 42 people,” Smith-Henrickson said.

“It’s been a lot of fun. It’s a lot of hard work but we really love it.”

At a glance

Slinger House Pub & Grille
Where: 100 W. Washington St., Slinger
Info: 262-644-8518, www.theslingerhouse.com