An old Irish man named O'Connor moved to Sussex, and quickly found a local watering hole to his liking. The first time he patronized the bar, he ordered three beers to be served at once. He repeated this ritual every day.
Finally the bartender couldn't stand it and asked the old man about his routine. O'Connor's eyes misted over, and through his tears he confessed, "I have two brothers, one in the old country and one in Australia, and when we parted we made a promise that if we ever went into a tavern, we would order three beers in memory of our childhood and growing up in the old sod."
One day, O'Connor came to the bar and only ordered two beers. The bartender figured that O'Connor must have lost one of his brothers, and offered his condolences. But the old man replied, "I appreciate your worrying, but my two brothers are fine. I just gave up drinking for Lent."
In January 1983, the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department’s contracted Sussex deputy, Art Harvestine, saw a man run out of Skeet Weeds Tavern (where the Sussex clock tower is today) just as he heard over his radio that the tavern had just been robbed of a six-pack.
Harvestine quickly apprehended the thief and wrote up a citation that would cost the man $90 – thus $15 per can and the thief could not keep the beer. The Sheriff’s Department’s Sussex Office kept it as “evidence.”
Barkeeps split on smoking ban
Some fear losses; others sanguine
Village of Sussex – Restaurant and tavern owners interviewed last week are divided on the impact of the new statewide workplace smoking ban the governor signed into law Monday.
The law will not affect the new George Webb Restaurant on Highway 164, whose general manager, Danna Wearing, already enforces a no-smoking rule.
At the other end of the spectrum, the owners of the Sussex Place Sports Bar on East Main Street and the Whiskey Corner tavern on Town Line Road in Menomonee Falls fear major losses.
Dean Babits – who owns, manages and cooks for his customers at his M&M Restaurant on Main Street – doesn't like the new law either, but believes the effect will be "minimal."
"People will learn to live with it," he said in an interview last week. "People on both coasts already have."
Customers at the Sussex Bowl on West Main Street are also debating the issue, according to manager Jessica Goldsworthy, who co-owns the business with two other partners.
While smoking is already banned in the bowling alley, customers can smoke at the bar. Even some smokers, however, say they'll come back after the ban takes affect next year, Goldsworthy said.
"They're the ones who say they plan to quit anyway," she said, "but some of my other smoking customers say (the new law) is unfair to them because nonsmokers have the option to go to a nonsmoking facility."
Goldsworthy said she might gain as many customers as she loses. "Some nonsmokers will start coming here because it will be a safe, nonsmoking environment."
Whatever their assessments of how the law will affect them, these business owners were glad they'll have a year – until July 5, 2010 – to adjust to it.
Babits was also glad the law was statewide, pre-empting local ordinances. "That's the only positive thing about it," he said.
Barb Adler was not as sanguine about her Whiskey Corners' prospects, however. "The law will have a very adverse effect on my business," the tavern owner said.
"If it's legal to use, we should be able to sell it," she added. "The state shouldn't be able to tell you what you can do in your own building. They might as well ban smoking altogether."
Sussex Place owner Jeff Bonaparte said two-thirds of the customers at his bar smoke – and he's one of them. After visiting Colorado, which already has a similar workplace smoking ban, he said, "I couldn't wait to come back to Wisconsin."
Bonaparte does not believe the ban will bring in as many customers as he'll lose. "By the time we start attracting nonsmokers," he said, "it will be too late."
Nor does he agree with Babits that the experience of Atlantic and Pacific coast states – many of which have passed similar smoking bans – holds any lessons for Wisconsin.
"It's just a lot colder here," Bonaparte pointed out. "People are not going to want to put their coats back on just to go outside to smoke, then come back in."
Many of his smoking customers stop by on their way home from work, where most of them are not allowed to smoke, he said. "If they can't smoke here either," he added, "they'll just go straight home and smoke there."
He said Sussex Place already provides a nonsmoking environment in its dining room and indoor volleyball courts and has a smoke removal system elsewhere, including the bar.
Bonaparte hopes the yearlong postponement will help him convert the horseshoes court behind the bar into an outdoor area where he can serve his smoking customers.
The new state law does allow for outdoor smoking areas that have no more than two "substantial" walls and a partial third wall, according to Jeff Kostelic, who works on the staff of State Rep. Jon Richards, co-sponsor of the legislation in the Assembly. The outdoor structure could even have a roof to protect customers from the rain or sun.
Adler scoffed at the idea, however. "What good is it to smoke outdoors, if you can't serve drinks outdoors?" she wondered.
Outdoor liquor service for those who aren't already licensed to provide it will require local government approval, according to Sussex Village Attorney John Macy. It will require a change in the establishment's liquor license; its site plan, plan of operations and, where applicable, its conditional use permit; and compliance with local ordinances covering outdoor establishments, beer gardens and public consumption of alcohol, he said.
"The smoking ban doesn't change the liquor laws," Village Administrator Evan Teich noted.
He said he expected businesses with smoking customers "to look for ways to add appendages to their buildings," and added, "We'll try to help them accommodate to the new law."
Teich said village officials will try to "keep the playing field level" so local businesses can continue to compete with their counterparts in neighboring communities.
State Rep. Don Pridemore – whose 99th District includes Sussex, Lannon, the northern two-thirds of Lisbon and the southwest corner of Menomonee Falls – wants the legislature to consider three major changes.
He said he will propose mandating that the state negotiate the same smoking ban into its contract with American Indian casinos and lowering the fines from $100 on smokers and $250 on business owners to something comparable to Madison’s fines on marijuana smoking (about $15, he said).
Pridemore said he expects another legislator to propose the third change he favors, which would allow hotels and motels to reserve 25 percent of their rooms for smokers. He called that proposal good for Wisconsin’s tourism industry.
Sussex bars and taverns add color to area's history
The Sussex-Lisbon Area Historical Society Museum will this summer feature the history of beer, taverns, and sources of alcoholic beverages. It also will continue to have other tidbits of local history — farming, business, families and what have you — the comprehensive history of Sussex, Lisbon and Lannon.
Thus, a series of short features on beer, taverns, and the like:
The adjacent town of Menomonee (Menomonee Falls) had an early settlement off Town Line Road and Highway 74 (Mill Road). It was called Lannon Springs, as it was part of the land claim of William Lannon, the namesake of the spring and the future eastern part of the village of Lannon of today.
The first thing was St. James Catholic Church in 1842-46. Then there was the 1843 post office at the Lannon homestead. Meanwhile 1843 saw a grocery store started in Lannon Spring, with William N. Lannon as the postmaster.
In 1875, the Lannon Spring hotel was built by Michael Keating, and it acquired the name of Whiskey Corners, as it was on the southwest corner of Mill Road and Tower Hill Road. Then the railroad, the North Western, came through in 1890, and the hotel saloon had to be moved to make way for the trestle and right of way of the emerging railroad crossing.
The new location of the Whiskey Corners hotel and saloon was at the northwest corer of Mill and Tower Hill roads, and is still called Whiskey Corners to this day.
The principal families involved in this enterprise over the years have been the McLaughlin and Gissal families, plus several others, most notably the present Albers family.
A brewery in Lisbon
The town of Lisbon had a brewery about a quarter mile north of Main Street, Sussex, on the east side of the road, just somewhat south of the present day United Church of Christ Cemetery. It was east of the intersection of Champeny Road and Maple Avenue, in the former Al Otten Lannon stone home at W239 N6638 Maple Avenue.
Collectors for years have tried to find beer bottles, or containers such as barrels that are associated with this brewery, but to no avail.
It is assumed that the entire production was consumed locally, even to having a tavern, where today one finds the Strobel Sussex Auto business. Later this mini tavern was replaced by a larger tavern-home site in what was a parking lot of Tony Maronni's Pizza.
The Boots family and later the Stone family and the William Smith family owned these taverns, which are now totally gone, even from local memories.
The turkey hunters' beer
The most famous early mention of beer in Lisbon was an episode in 1839. It comes from the 1880 History of Waukesha County. An entry on page 770 reads:
"Very many (in 1880) will remember the first turkey shoot that came off in this town (Lisbon), and the very first in the county.
In 1839, David Bonham got the turkeys and men came from far and near and had a big time.
Among other preparations made for the event, Bonham went with Thomas Redford (the first Lisbon land claimer) to Milwaukee for a keg of Beer. In coming home over the rough roads, the beer got so shook up that it burst out the bung, and it was not drank by the turkey-shooters."
In the 1850s William Weaver and James Stone are listed in the Lisbon census as "brewers."
There was a listing of the "Bonham Pubic House" (tavern) in 1850 in Lisbon.
Meanwhile a William Spink is listed as a tavern keeper in Lisbon in 1860. He had his tavern at the northwest corer of present day Highway 164 and Lisbon Road.
He is also famous as having a "Spinks Band" that entertained at various Lisbon happenings of that area and beyond.
Ephraim Boots married an Eleanor Stone who in 1860 is listed as a brewer in the Lisbon census. She was the daughter of William Weaver, so the Weavers became engaged in beer making several ways. They raised barley and hops as big-time farm producers, and ingredients for the local Lisbon-made beer.
Sussex bars and taverns add color to area's history
The Sussex Lisbon Area Historical Society is unveiling a new exhibit, the history of taverns and saloons in Sussex, Lisbon and Lannon. It is a big subject as it goes back to a tavern that the first Town of Lisbon chairman, David Bonham, opened just as the settlers were coming in the 1840's. However, he got involved in a manslaughter deal that almost led to his legal hanging, and he left the area for Missouri where he did extremely well, even to becoming a Union Army officer in the Civil War, and later a Missouri legislator.
For various reasons, Lisbon was not much involved in the beer-liquor trade, as it had other options, such as Whiskey Corners and the Roadside Inn (located in Lake Five) that were just over the border, but close enough for a thirsty person. Then there were the unincorporated villages of Sussex and Templeton (then part of Lisbon) and the nearby villages of Lannon and Merton, which had saloons and taverns.
Lisbon a slow starter
For a long period after these villages became incorporated, Lisbon was without a tavern, other than those close by. Marchese's Dance Land was unique in its time as it was the only place in the Town of Lisbon that had a liquor/beer license. Today the golf courses in Lisbon have their bars and the former McLaughlin Barn Shooters on Town Line Road near Whiskey Corners is in business.
Meanwhile, in old Sussex-Templeton there are a dozen or more places that you can buy alcoholic beverages, from taverns to sports bars to bowling alleys to pizza parlors, and even in grocery stores one can get alcoholic beverages.
A notable story is what was here and gone in Sussex-Templeton — Brook's Hotel-Donkle's Jolly Bar, Finley's on the Main-Wolfendale's, and Bergers Olde Templeton Inn are all gone.
Even further back is the Fred Boots Tavern/William Smith Tavern that today is just a parking lot on Sussex's Main Street.
Judy Taylor is a valued member of the Sussex Lisbon Area Historical Society, and the granddaughter of one of the great watering holes in Templeton which in time became the Berger's Olde Templeton Inn.
Judy is a past director of the historical society, but now is a volunteer for the society. A few years ago she donated to the society her family album of photos of the family as owners of Taylor's Hotel (Taylor's Saloon).
The Taylor business
It was started in Templeton in 1888 by George Short and George Hummel as a single-story tavern at the intersections of the new Wisconsin Central Railroad and Main Street. Sometime about 1904 her grandfather and grandmother, William and Kathryn Taylor, bought the then-one-story saloon, where they raised their family of four children and lived out their lives, William died in 1947 and Katheryn in 1950, when the business was again sold by the estate.
The Taylor family saw that the 1910-12 building of the third train tracks through Lisbon would be a high point for them, as they more than doubled the size of the saloon to include hotel rooms for the transient railroad workers. Once the railroad builders left, the Taylors tavern-hotel become the rooming house for stone cutters and quarry workers. Kathryn was the cook for the borders. One of the most famous long term residents was the local blacksmith, Roman Kanewic. He had his shop near where today the Sussex Inn is situated.
The Taylor family in time would have a farm on Waukesha Avenue just north of the North Western — today Union Pacific — railroad tracks. This acreage also included the emerging mega hill of gravel which is today the Lannon Stone Products.
The gravel pit was opened in 1910 to furnish the gravel for the North Western rail line construction, and acquired the name of "Taylor's Hill" gravel pit. Paul Relat acquired the Taylor Hotel-Saloon in 1950 and had it for over a decade. In 1972 the Berger family took it over.
The days of its destruction and removal from the Templeton area of the "Olde Templeton Inn" was on September 10-13, 2007. Some years earlier the Berger family had a historical marker installed at their tavern, but came demolition day and someone had stolen the historical sign. It was never to be found again.
A sign preserved
The Sussex Lisbon Area Historical Society Museum does have the major street-side "OLDE TEMPLETON FINE DINING" sign, which was donated by the Berger family during the actual demolition. It is on display at the museum as a tribute to the beer/spirits industry of greater Lisbon.
Oddly, while Olde Templeton Inn was going down, almost at the same time, the end of the era of the Marchese Dance Land ballroom in Lisbon occurred. Still, to this day the skeleton building is still up on Highway 164, formerly Highway J. Reports say the Marchese Dance Land building is so deteriorated inside that restoration attempts are all but out of the question.