Storied country tavern being touted as dining, entertainment venue
Tracy and Angela Kizewski, the new owners of Boondoxx Bar and Grill in the Town of Port Washington, realize location is not the business’ best selling point.
“Frankly, we are in the middle of nowhere,” said Tracy Kizewski of the longtime nightspot at 4885 Hwy. LL, about midway between Port Washington and Belgium.
“However, we hope to overcome that by becoming a destination spot that offers fine dining and plenty of entertainment.”
The log building has a history dating to 1933. It was known for a long time as the Dixie Inn, and more recently as Dixie Chix and the Escape Bar.
The Kizewskis, who live in Port Washington, bought the business in July. They have a long-term lease with building owner Wayne Haupt, and hope to purchase it if their business plan pans out.
“When we took over the building, we realized there was a lot more work to do than we expected. The previous operators ran it as a dance club for young people, and it was in pretty rough shape,” Kizewski said.
The restoration effort included gutting the kitchen, which Kizewski said had been largely untouched since the 1930s.
That work was mostly completed by the opening in mid-October, although the couple said they still have plenty of things on their “to do” list.
Foremost on that list is the addition of a deck and possibly repaving the parking area. Some landscaping improvements have already been made and more will come when the spring weather returns.
Eventually, the exterior of the building may be refinished to reveal the natural wood of the log walls. They are now painted dark red.
“The vision we have is to create a rustic, Up North feeling, where people can count on coming in and enjoying a quality meal. Good food, good drink and good company is our goal,” Kizewski said.
The dining area on the south side of the building was brightened and made more inviting. It has six tables.
The central portion of the building is dominated by a cozy bar. An entertainment area with a dance floor, booth seating and an oversized projection TV screen fills the north side.
“This place is really hopping when the Packers are playing, but when you are in the dining room you can’t really hear what is going on in the other side of the building,” Kizewski said Sunday afternoon.
Karaoke performances and live music will be offered on a regular basis.
Beyond the physical improvements, Kizewski said a priority was placed on bringing in respected managers to handle the day-to-day requirements of the business.
Roxanne Scheel, formerly of the Little Kohler Hause, was hired as the chef and Dave Magnusson manages the bar.
A comprehensive menu developed by Scheel includes burgers, sandwiches, steaks, chops, chicken and pasta, along with appetizers and salads. A selection of homemade desserts is highlighted by a Kahlua-infused chocolate lava cake.
Although it has only been offered for a few weeks, a Friday fish fry has quickly proven a popular choice with a growing number of diners.
A signature sandwich is the Boondoxx burger, a beef patty topped with garlic bacon, cheddar cheese and an over-easy egg.
“We trust Roxanne to come up with inspired food ideas, and pass along suggestions we get from our customers,” Kizewski said.
The Kizewskis spend a lot of time at the restaurant, as do their sons, Chad and Austin, who both work there.
“The goal is for Angela and I to be the face of the business, greeting customers when they come in, and being about to respond when they have questions or suggestions,” Kizewski said.
“In a lot of businesses, you never really see the owners. The hope is that we are not here 24/7, but we intend to be very visible.”
Kizewski was introduced to food service when he managed La Frontera restaurant in Brown Deer for four years in the 1980s, but he spent the last two decades in sales in the print and gaming industries.
“It has always been a passion of mine to have a restaurant, and it just seemed like the timing was right,” he said.
Looking to the future, Kizewski said he would like to contract with a van service to bring customers to the restaurant and back home after a night on the town.
Whenever possible, he said, he hopes the restaurant will be able to serve locally raised meats and produce.
“I think it is important to keep business local, whenever you can,” Kizewski said.
In keeping with that theme, he said several local restaurant owners and town officials have become regular customers.
“That’s the thing about a community like ours. Everyone is very supportive,” Kizewski said.
Image information: THE NEW OWNERS of Boondoxx Bar and Grill in the Town of Port Washington hope the out-of-the-way setting becomes a destination for those who enjoy good food and drinks. Familiar faces at the restaurant include (front row) co-owner Angela Kizewski and chef Roxanne Scheel, (back row) Austin Kizewski, co-owner Tracy Kizewski and bar manager Dave Magnusson. Photos by Mark Jaeger