Commission gives Airstream food trailer the green light

Port officials who opposed permit vote in favor of seasonal eatery parked on downtown lot

A PROPOSAL TO place an Airstream trailer in a small grassy area at the corner of Franklin and Pier streets, shown here looking southeast from Pier Street, was endorsed by the Port Washington Plan Commission last weekl. The Airstream, a trailer much like the one in the photo at left, would serve ice cream and snacks. Photo by Bill Schanen IV
Ozaukee Press staff

The Port Washington Plan Commission last week unanimously recommended that an Airstream trailer be allowed to park on a  grassy lot on Franklin Street and serve ice cream and other treats during the summer tourist season.

Mayor Marty Becker and Ald. Paul Neumyer, both members of the commission who had previously opposed the idea, did an about face and voted to allow the trailer downtown.

“I will change my mind,” Becker said. “I’ve heard nothing but good things about this. As mayor, I have to do what’s best for the community.”

Neumyer echoed Becker, saying he had talked to a number of people but only heard one person opposed to the idea.

Nick and Melissa Suddendorf have proposed buying the vacant lot at the corner of Franklin and Pier streets, along with the adjacent building, and creating a park-like setting with benches, lights, a fire pit and the Airstream, from which they would sell ice cream, sundaes, shakes and sandwiches for lunch and dinner.

Bob Harris, the city’s director of planning and development, said the couple had altered their plans to retain more of the grass than originally proposed.

The business could run from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily from May 1 to Oct. 31, according to the conditional use permit application.

Commission member Tony Matera asked whether these hours would preclude the couple from offering hot chocolate during the city’s annual Christmas on the Corner celebration in December.

“That would be pretty awesome,” Matera said.

The couple can ask for a change in hours to allow that if they want, Harris said.

Commission member Ron Voigt noted that the couple plans to move the trailer off the site during the winter and probably won’t want to move it more than once.

However, he said, they could put a temporary stand there for the holiday event, he said.

City Administrator Mark Grams asked if the couple planned to operate the Airstream in perpetuity or if they would eventually build on the site.

“I’d like to see this work and not let Nick put up a building,” Melissa Suddendorf said. “It’s a fun way to get a park downtown.”

Grams warned commission members that the move would likely result in some pushback from other downtown property owners who are asked to make improvements to their buildings.

“Now we’ve got an Airstream trailer in the middle of downtown,” he said. “Remember this —it’s going to get thrown back in your face.”

But Matera disagreed.

“What makes it a great idea is the great location,” he said. “I think this was an opportunity Nick and Melissa saw and pursued.”

No one else in downtown took the initiative to propose this sort of project, he said, adding, “I think it’s not our job to protect everybody in downtown. This is something that could definitely enhance downtown.
Commission member Brenda Fritsch agreed, saying it will enhance the now vacant property.

“The city is getting something out of this,” she said. I do think it’s a destination point for families and kids. This is something that will add to the character.”

The commission’s recommendation to approve a conditional use permit for the venue will go to the Common Council for consideration next month.

Nick Suddendorf asked that the city, which reviews these permits after a year, reconsider the couple’s permit in October 2020 instead of August, saying that would give them a full season on which to be judged. The commission agreed.


Click Here to Send a Letter to the Editor

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.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


User login