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Hardee’s closes for good

Hardee's restaurant, a longtime fixture on Highway 74 just south of Main Street, closed its doors for good last Saturday, Dec. 20.

Hardee's restaurant, a longtime fixture on Highway 74 just south of Main Street, closed its doors for good last Saturday, Dec. 20.

“It was a shock when I got the call Sunday morning,” Barb Packard, the restaurant’s biscuit maker, recalled in a phone conversation last week. She stopped in later that morning “and had a good cry with Tracy (Cook, the restaurant’s manger).”

Employees, customers and community leaders blame the new traffic island on Highway 74, part of the state’s recent reconstruction project, which forces anyone leaving the parking lot to turn right regardless of which way they want to go.

If they’re right, then Hardee’s is the second restaurant on that corner to disappear in the wake of the road project. Steve Berger’s Olde Templeton Inn was demolished at the project’s outset to make way for the widened intersection.

Sussex village historian Fred Keller said he thought the village’s business activity had been moving off of Main Street and its side streets westward to Highway 164.

“McDonald’s coming to town (on 164) might have hurt us, too,” Packard said. “My own group of seniors used to meet at Hardee’s every morning except Sunday when we went to church. But because of the boulevard, now we all meet at McDonald’s at the other end of Main Street.”

“There’s just more traffic on Highway 164,” said Sussex businessman Chris Zuzick, a former president of the Sussex Area Chamber of Commerce, after ticking off the names of the fast-food restaurants there: Culver’s, MacDonald’s and Starbucks.

Starbucks also has only one way in and out, he noted, just like Hardee’s. “There’s not a lot of selling they have to do. They just pick off the low-hanging fruit.”

The key to the eastern end of Main Street, he said, is the old Mammoth Spring Canning Co. property, which has remained undeveloped since the company’s demise in 1965.

Zuzick is not confident that the current owner, Bielinksi Homes, will get around to developing the property any time soon – both because of the firm’s internal problems and the deepening recession, which has hurt development and construction generally.

Village President Tony Lapcinski was a little more upbeat about the property, noting that the village’s plans for a sixth Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) district was moving ahead at an accelerated pace, and might be in place as early as 2010.

Creation of a new TIF district has not begun because the village has maxed out on its TIF districts, he explained. Districts four and five will be paid off during the coming year, however – “way ahead of schedule,” he noted – paving the way for the new district in 2010.

The new district’s boundaries would include the area around Highway 74/Waukesha Avenue and Main Street and extend westward along Main Street, “how far west we haven’t decided yet,” Lapcinski said.

The end of TIF districts four and five will also boost the village’s tax revenues. TIF district property taxes go only to pay off the loans on the infrastructure required to start the TIF districts in the first place. When the loans are paid off, property taxes then go to the village.

Bielinski has not made much progress in the meantime, beyond cleaning up the site, something the company only recently completed.

“All we’ve seen so far are some very preliminary plans,” Lapcinski said. “Without TIF six, they’re not going to be in any rush.”

Packard will start looking for work at another Hardee’s. In the meantime, she’ll miss the people she worked with and her customers.

“I just want to thank them for coming in and getting to know everyone by their first names,” she said. “Most of them just know me as Barb, too. I don’t think they even knew my last name, and I didn’t know theirs either.”


News Briefs

Hardee’s closed?

Village of Sussex – People going to the Hardee’s Restaurant on Waukesha Avenue near Main Street have found its doors shut, at least since Saturday night.

Village historian Fred Keller told the Sun he suspects that the state’s Highway 74 construction project, which included a traffic island in front of the restaurant, might have hurt its business too badly for it to remain viable.

Another sports bar at Beier's Corner

The former Hardees is in the process of being converted into a sports bar. This part of Olde Templeton from the 1920s to 1950s on the southeast corner of Waukesha Avenue and Main Street was known as Beier's Corner as Herb Beier (1897-1955) owned three buildings on his land mass: a home, a filling station and the adjacent former cheese factory which he had turned into a multi-unit apartment complex.

Now the new unnamed sports bar will also intrude onto the land that once held the massive James Templeton home, the namesake of the then eastern unicorporated municipality of Templeton (1887-1924)..

Beier was born on Dec. 26, 1897, on a farm on Swan Road just south of Lisbon Road. He attended a local, rural Lisbon school. Meanwhile available were two Brown sisters, farmer daughters, named Jeanette and Jesse. Their father owned what was part of what is today's Thousand Oak subdivision. Herb Beier married Jeanette.

The other daughter married Roy Stier, a black smith, mechanic, charter member of the Sussex Fire Department, former president of the Lions Club, decades-long member of the Sussex Village Board, longtime Sussex Village President and even served some terms as the Sussex Fire Chief. Thus, with this relationship, Beier also became a Sussex fireman, was elected Sussex Village Trustee and president of the Lions Club from 1952-53.

Beier bought a home and garage on the Waukesha Avenue corner in his 20s in the early 1920s. he sold Wadhams oil products and had gasoline pumps on the Waukesha Avenue side of the garage.

He planted a big garden behind his station which mostly raised flowers. In time, he bought the adjacent abandoned cheese factory and converted it into an apartment. However, in the basement he was a local leader in teacher and coaching a Sussex youth rifle club.

The Beier garage became something of a kids hang out as the Beiers had four children: Doris, Jack, Bill and Tom.

One of these visiting kids from the 1930s, Art Magnusson, remembers that Herb sold Essex cars and during World War II, he had a special set of tools to carve new treads into used tires to go along with his limited sale of Corduroy brand tires.

Magnusson also remembers that the local black smith, Roman Kanewic, kept a beat-up Sturtz Bear Cat convertible in the backyard of Beier's land mass. The kids played in this relic and Magnussson remembers that it had a four-cylinder engine with monstrous pistons.

As time went on, Herb became a radio and electronic repair man to supplement his garage and apartment rentals. Then he was in on the ground floor as television came on in the late 1940s.

Only three years after Herb was president of the Sussex Lions Club he died at age 57 on Oct. 31, 1955. While Herb died at age 57, his sister, Mary Beier Wildt lived for more than 100 years outliving all of the rest of the Beier family.

Meanwhile the 125-by-147-foot Beier property and its three buildings started to be demolished in the late-1970s and early 1980s. Much of the property is now under concrete as the Waukesha Avenue and Main Street intersection was greatly widened. Now remnants of this land will be part of the proposed sports bar that will take over the former Hardee's restaurant.

Rumors Sports Bar & Grill



W232 N6368 Waukesha Ave. Sussex, Wisconsin 53089 - 262.820.3720









    Rumors Bar & Grill is a sports bar that features 24 flat screen TVs throughout the bar, dining area and bathrooms. It offers a variety of lunch and dinner options including nachos, quesadillas, wings, salads, burgers, sandwiches, wraps, desserts and beverages.  Happy Hour is held Monday through Saturday from 2pm to 7pm.

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