New life for an old Town of Port tavern, eatery

Owner of construction company is using his skills to turn the former Dixie Inn into the Iron Hog Saloon in time for April opening

FULL PULL CONSTRUCTION owner Chad Arndt stood outside and behind the bar of the former Dixie Inn, which he is renovating inside and out to create the Iron Hog Saloon. He plans to open the Town of Port bar and restaurant next month. Photos by Sam Arendt
By 
KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Ozaukee Press staff

People driving by the former Dixie Inn in the Town of Port Washington have one question for Chad Arndt.

Why are there two garage doors on the exterior of the building?

“That’s the biggest thing I’ve done so far,” said Arndt, who’s been busy updating and renovating the longtime bar and restaurant. 

The doors, which will open onto a patio Arndt is planning to add to the property, will allow him to open the bar and eatery to the outdoors when the weather is nice, he explained.

“It’ll bring the outside in,” Arndt said. “When it’s nice out, I can open it up and people can eat outside. They can get the fresh air.”

Weather-permitting, Arndt plans to open the former Dixie Inn in mid-April as the Iron Hog Saloon, a country-themed tavern and restaurant.

Arndt, owner of Full Pull Construction in Random Lake, has been working hard on the building, using his skills to help create the place he’s been envisioning for some time now.

He’s adding plenty of “pine and barn board,” Arndt said. “It’s as country as you can get.”

The bar itself was old and a little tired, he said, but now it’s updated, and that alone has helped refresh the space.

The ambience is fitting its rural location, Arndt said of the building at the corner of highways LL and P.

 He’s also made some changes to the interior that will make the space more usable, Arndt said, giving it a fresh look and a layout that’s ideal for more than one use.

“Now you can have a birthday party or bridal shower there,” he said. 

Arndt said he plans to run the Iron Hog, which will open initially as a bar with food added in mid-May or June.

As befits the setting and theme, the menu will be casual on weekdays, he said, but a little more formal on weekends with fish and prime rib added.

Arndt said he plans to add entertainment on weekends, perhaps bands or karaoke, to draw a crowd and help add life to the facility.

Arndt is a hands-on business owner.

 He plans to run the Iron Hog himself, he said, noting he has hired a few more people for his construction firm to give him the time he needs to do that.

“I’m not opposed to hiring a manager to take care of the day-to-day things at the bar if I have to,” he added, but for now he plans to be a hands-on owner.

He has also been hard at work on the building itself, putting in an average of 100 hours a week on the project.

By Friday, the building interior should be about 90% complete, he estimated. He’ll then turn his attention to the exterior.

And eventually he plans to remodel the upstairs apartment. Right now, he said, you have to go through the bar to get to the apartment. He plans to add an exterior entrance to separate the two uses.

While a number of operators have tried their hand at running the bar through the years, Arndt said he believes he can succeed.

Unlike previous operators, Arndt said, he doesn’t have partners he has to cater to. And he’s giving people in the area another option for their recreational dollars.

His updated tavern and eatery will have the atmosphere and theme that will help it succeed, he added.

“It’s a place where during the day you can bring your kids in and eat, and at night there will be things for you to do too,” Arndt said. “It will be a place where people can come in and be a community.”

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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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