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Fishing for Smith Bros. restaurant history PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 04 August 2010 18:39

Family’s history buff seeks information on early years of business that became landmark in downtown Port

Lloyd Smith, whose surname is synonymous with downtown Port Washington, is looking for information about his family’s famous restaurant at the corner of Grand Avenue and Franklin Street.

He’s writing a history of the business, and is seeking information on the expansion of the restaurant’s early dining rooms.

Specifically, he’s looking for information on when each of its six dining rooms was added.

“Although it is a very long shot, I am trying to contact anyone still alive who may have worked there between 1934 and 1940 or who can answer any part of the question,” he said. “I have ideas, but nothing solid. Today, there is no family member alive who can answer that question.”

Smith, a history buff, is working to ensure the landmark Port Washington business is not forgotten. He is writing a history of the business for a Web site maintained by Lincoln Smith’s son Brian.

“It’s a collection of all sorts of things Smith,” he said. He’s already done a history of the Harborside Motel — today the Holiday Inn Harborview — which the family built in 1973, and edited the memoirs of Evelyn Smith, who started the family restaurant.

“This is my last project, the restaurant,” Smith said.

The history will not only include a chronology of the restaurant but a collection of factors that led to its successes and struggles, Smith said.

Among the factors that hurt the business were decisions to route Highway 141 and later I-43 along the outskirts of Port Washington, shuttling traffic away from downtown Port.

“That really hurt us,” Smith said.

The steady increase in fish and seafood prices were also tough on the business, he said, noting that for decades fish was much less expensive than meat.

“We prided ourselves in having meals cheaper than the Port Hotel,” which was known for its steak dinners, he said.

Smith Bros. restaurant has its roots in 1924 when, after a week of rain, a cloudburst forced the already swollen Sauk Creek over its banks. The fishing shanties that lined the west slip were washed away.

Within days, an old harness shop at the corner of Franklin Street and Grand Avenue was rented and converted into a fish market. Soon, Evelyn Smith installed a fryer and began cooking fish to sell.

During a skat tournament, a man suggested the fried fish be made into sandwiches that would be easy to eat while playing cards. The sandwich was an immediate success.

By 1934, the family bought a neighboring fruit market and set up a counter and three tables there.

During its first six years, the restaurant grew from 18 seats to 250 seats in six dining rooms.

“Each time there was a new dining room, they had to redo the kitchen,” Smith said, noting that by 1940 the restaurant encompassed five buildings and had 13 fryers.

The restaurant, which was on Highway 32, was ideally located for success, he said.

In 1934, the 200-mile trip from Chicago to Door County took one day.

“You’d start out in the morning and halfway through, in Port Washington, you would stop for lunch,” he said. “Highway 32 took traffic right past our door.”

In November 1953, a fire destroyed the restaurant, leaving only the market and bar unscathed.

The family rebuilt the restaurant. The next major structural change occurred in 1982, when the Harbor Room on the east side of the building was constructed.

In 1988, Joe DeRosa purchased Smith Bros. Restaurant. He added a second-floor open-air dining area in 1991.

The business was purchased by the William Goldammer family in 1997. They, too, renovated the restaurant after a fire in 2001.

Lighthouse Development bought the business in 2005 and spent the next year renovating the building, which they dubbed Smith Bros. Marketplace. It is currently occupied by a coffeehouse, but the bulk of the first floor is vacant. The second floor is being renovated for the headquarters of Franklin Energy.

 
Lakefront parking changes recommended PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 28 July 2010 18:00

Port Safety Committee backs plan to remove some meters, designate areas for permits, two-hour use

Changes to two parking lots on Port Washington’s lakefront were recommended Tuesday by the Traffic Safety Committee.

The parking meters should be removed from the lot at the north end of the north slip, the committee recommended.

The northern row of parking places should be designated for two-hour parking, the committee said, and the southern row for permit parking from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and two-hour parking at other times.

The permit parking is largely intended for employees of Franklin Energy, which is moving into the nearby Smith Bros. Marketplace building, City Administrator Mark Grams said.

However, he added, anyone with a permit would be able to park there.

Right now, Grams said, the lot is seldom used except on weekends, when fishermen park there.

Because it is seldom used, the city should not impose a two-hour limit on the northern parking aisle but instead allow unrestricted parking there to encourage people to use the lot, Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven, the committee chairman, said.

“I wouldn’t restrict parking until the parking lot is overflowing with cars,” he said. “I’d rather have it unrestricted and restrict it later if needed.”

Restricting parking in the future would be difficult, Grams said.

“Then you’re going to get this whole room full of people screaming because you’re taking away their unrestricted parking,” he said.

The owners of the Port Shopping Center, which is next to the lot, have also requested the city designate the area for two-hour parking, Grams said.

“They said they can’t get a tenant because there’s not enough parking on-site,” he said. “Eventually, the shopping center’s going to need it.”

But Vanden Noven noted that Port Main Street is working on parking lot improvements, including configuring the shopping center’s lot for two-way traffic — something the owners are resisting.

“We need to get their cooperation,” he said. “Maybe this should be part of an overall parking package instead of something we do piecemeal.”

Ald. Dan Becker, a member of the committee, said two-hour parking would be consistent with the restrictions elsewhere in downtown.

“The two-hour parking would be an improvement over the meters. People avoid them like the plague,” he said.

The committee also recommended designating five stalls in the lot behind Smith Bros. Marketplace and Harry’s Restaurant for 30-minute parking from April to November.

The stalls, which are in the far northeastern corner near the Main Street cul-de-sac, are intended to be used by charter fishermen and their clients when they load and unload supplies, Grams said.

The 30-minutes parking was requested by charter boat captains and recommended by the Harbor Commission, he said.

“Anyone can still park there. You just can’t park there for more than 30 minutes,” Grams said. “At Dockside Deli, that’s probably enough time for people to run in and pick up lunch.”

The Common Council is expected to review both recommendations when it meets Tuesday, Aug. 3, and act on them at its Tuesday, Aug. 17, meeting.

 
Police cite two for trying to destroy downtown trees PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 21 July 2010 18:40
Port Washington police on Saturday cited two people for trying to destroy trees planted along Franklin Street in downtown.

A 25-year-old Port Washington man was cited for disorderly conduct at about 2:30 a.m. after an officer patrolling downtown saw him shaking a gingko tree outside Foxy’s Tavern, then bending the top of the tree as if he wanted to snap it off, police said.

When the officer pulled up, the man let go of the tree and began to walk away, according to the police report. The officer stopped him, told him his actions were unacceptable and issued him a ticket.

The man claimed he was only leaning up against the tree, police said.

At about 10:30 p.m., a 30-year-old Pewaukee woman was also cited for disorderly conduct after an officer saw her attempting to climb a tree in the 200 block of Franklin Street, police said.

The woman was pulling on the tree, bending it over, and her feet rubbed some of the bark off, according to the police report.

When the officer issued the ticket, the woman became very angry and argued with him, police said.

The tickets carry a maximum fine of $208.50, according to police.

The incidents occurred less than a week after two other downtown trees were broken off by vandals. Those cases are unsolved.

Since the city planted trees in the downtown parkways as part of the Franklin Street reconstruction project in 2008, at least seven of them have been replaced after vandals destroyed them.

The vandalism has caused officials to once again consider the possibility of installing security cameras downtown. This concept is expected to be discussed by either the Board of Public Works or the Police and Fire Commission — as well as the Port Washington Main Street board of directors — in the coming weeks.
 
Nine-month-old boy bitten by dog Tuesday at park PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 14 July 2010 18:11
A nine-month-old boy playing in Upper Lake Park was bitten in the face Tuesday night by a dog whose owner walked away after the incident, according to Port Washington police.

Young Henry Johnson is doing well, but his parents are frustrated by the incident.

“It really kind of angers me that he (the dog’s owner) wouldn’t stick around,” Henry’s father Keith said Wednesday. “You need to take some responsibility.”

Henry was treated at an urgent care center for a bite on his upper lip and marks on his nose and chin, his father said.

“His lip’s a little bruised, but he’s fine,” he said, noting the bite required medical glue but not stitches. “It’s just a little cut.”

Johnson said his wife Rebecca and Henry were in the park when a man walking two dogs — one on a leash and the other off leash — came up to them about 8 p.m. and began talking to his wife.

Mrs. Johnson told police that when the dog on the leash got within reach of her son, she told the man to watch the dog because Henry, who was crawling in the grass, likes to grab things, according to the police report.

The dog then bit Henry in the face, according to the report. As Mrs. Johnson picked her son up, she noticed the man was leaving the area. She called to him, telling him the dog bit her son, but he continued to walk away, police said.

She then caught up to the man, told him what had happened and showed him the blood on her son’s face, according to the report.

The man scolded the dog, then got into his car and drove off, police said.

Mrs. Johnson got the license plate number, which police traced to the 84-year-old  Port Washington man, the report states.

“If my wife wouldn’t have had the sense to take down his license plate, we wouldn’t know if the dog might have had rabies or anything,” Mr. Johnson said.

When police spoke to the man, he told police he did not see any blood on the child’s face or other serious injury and didn’t think too much of the incident, according to the report.

The man, who admitted his other dog was running free at the time, was told he would receive a citation for having an unleashed dog, police said.

An investigation into the incident is continuing, police said.
 
Voters will decide how to choose town clerk PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 07 July 2010 18:36

Port Town Board agrees to hold November referendum to determine if office should be appointed instead of elected

Town of Port Washington residents will be asked this fall whether the town clerk should be appointed in the future.

The Town Board on Tuesday reviewed a proposed ordinance calling for the clerk’s position to become appointed — a move that is becoming more common in townships.

A public hearing on the proposal will be held during the Tuesday, Sept. 7, Town Board meeting.

The matter will then be put to a referendum vote in November. If approved, it will take effect next spring, when Clerk Jennifer Schlenvogt’s term expires.

Town Chairman Lee Schlenvogt said supervisors want to give residents plenty of time to weigh in on the proposal.

“We want to know how our residents feel about this,” Schlenvogt said, adding the board deliberately decided to hold the referendum during the November election.

“We wanted a well-attended election so we know how our people feel about this,” he said.

Schlenvogt said the board decided to look into appointing its clerk after longtime Clerk Susan Westerbeke resigned in mid-term this spring.

“Our hands were really tied on filling the position,” he said.

The board had to appoint someone who was a town resident, and couldn’t alter the pay to reflect the person’s experience.

Finding a qualified person in a township of less than 1,700 people was a challenge, Schlenvogt said.

“A large number of those people have absolutely no interest in town government,” and many are not qualified for the clerk’s job, he said.

Five people applied to complete Westerbeke’s term, which ends in April, but three of those applicants lived outside the town, Schlenvogt said.

Fortunately, the two remaining applicants were qualified, he added.

Jennifer Schlenvogt, who had been the town’s chief election inspector for the past two years and a poll worker for five years, was unanimously appointed to fill the remaining year on Westerbeke’s term.

“We were very fortunate. It worked out,” Lee Schlenvogt said. “If those two applicants hadn’t come forth, the town could have been left in the lurch. I don’t know what we would have done.

“The clerk’s position is integral to town government.”

Not only does the clerk handle a number of administrative duties, he or she is also in charge of elections.

Appointing a clerk will give the Town Board a larger pool of potential people to choose from and help ensure the person hired can readily step in when the current clerk steps down, Schlenvogt noted.

“A number of the town chairman I spoke to said this was the best move they ever made,” he said.

Although many townships have also decided to appoint their treasurers, Schlenvogt said the Town of Port hasn’t discussed that possibility.

“We often have people approach us about combining the clerk and treasurer’s position,” he said. “But we like the check and balance that having a separate clerk and treasurer provides.”

The proposed ordinance reviewed Tuesday calls for the clerk’s position to be filled by appointment of the Town Board, with the clerk serving a three-year term. The clerk could be removed during the term for cause.

 
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