New owner of popular Belgium restaurant has no plans for big changes
For nearly three decades, the Arndt family has served home-cooked food and hometown hospitality at HoBo’s Korner Kitchen, at the intersection of Highway LL and Main Street in Belgium.
But, with the start of the new year, the quintessential family restaurant is under new ownership.
However, the new owners are quick to spread the word that wholesale changes are not on the horizon.
“Everything is staying the same. We love the Arndt family and want to keep things just the way they are,” said new owner Sher Hamdia.
Her family has operated restaurants and truck stops in Milwaukee, Waukesha and Kenosha for 40 years.
Hamdia’s father Jeff will oversee the day-to-day operations.
“We aren’t calling him the manager. He will be more of our go-to guy,” she said.
Hamdia said she began stopping at HoBo’s about five years ago, and liked everything about it.
“When we heard the restaurant was on the market, I thought we had to jump. I didn’t want to miss out on this property. I love how close-knit the community is,” she said.
HoBo’s classic menu will be maintained, although it will likely be augmented by a few monthly specials that will be added as time passes.
“I would like to add some steak and meat specials. That seems to be the kind of food truckers really like,” Hamdia said.
The friendly faces of staff members regular customers have grown accustomed to seeing will remain, as well, she said.
“Everyone has been offered a chance to stay with us,” Hamdia said.
The restaurant won’t be undergoing a major facelift, either.
“We want to be here a while and see what works and what doesn’t before we decide on any changes,” the new owner said.
The sale marks another business transition for the Arndt family, which at one time operated a cluster of thriving enterprises in the village.
In 1953, brothers-in-law Howard Arndt and Dean Yoho founded Belgium Trucking to haul canned goods for Krier Preserving Co., one of the community’s cornerstone employers.
Based on the success of that business, they started HowDea Service Center on the corner of Highway 57 and Highway D in 1967. The center repaired and serviced commercial trucks.
The unusual name came by combining the first names of the founders.
After Yoho died, Arndt and his family took over the enterprise.
In hopes of capturing more business from I-43 traffic, the service center was relocated to the site of a former John Deere implement dealership near the Highway LL exit ramp.
The adjacent corner lot became the home for the family-run restaurant, which was named HoBo’s to reflect the names of its owners — Howard Arndt and his wife Margaret, whose nickname was Boots.
The restaurant opened in 1987.
Seven years later, the family-owned company purchased a nearby tavern that became the site for a mini-mart.
That business was sold to local businessman Talwinder Singh Gill in October 2015.
The original trucking business was closed in 1997.
Although Margaret Arndt died in 2006 and her husband Howard was technically retired, the family remained very involved in the operation of the restaurant — until last week.
In a February 2015 Ozaukee Press story on the various family enterprises, it was noted how the eatery proved popular with over-the-road truckers and locals looking to enjoy a good meal and some friendly conversation.
“Mustreipen is a big seller for us, being in a Luxembourg-rich village,” restaurant co-owner Pat Arndt told the newspaper.
“People like to come in for a good, filling breakfast, whether from nearby or hundreds of miles away.”
FOR ALMOST 30 years, the Arndt family has served home-cooked meals and hospitality at HoBo’s Korner Kitchen in Belgium. As of Jan. 1, the family business changed hands. Sher Hamdia (upper photo) is the new owner. Her family has four decades of experience in the restaurant business. Hamdia said the hope is to keep the popular restaurant just as it is. Photos by Mark Jaeger