New year, new owners for two Port businesses

Long-standing downtown shops Dockside Deli, Java Dock change hands

TWO DOWNTOWN PORT WASHINGTON eateries recently changed hands. Kim Voeller sold Dockside Deli to Scott Cathcart on Dec. 24, but she is staying on to help with the transition for a week or two.
By 
KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Ozaukee Press staff

Two staples of downtown Port Washington — Dockside Deli and Java Dock —are up and running under new ownership after being closing briefly over the holidays.

Dockside Deli owner Kim Voeller sold the business to Scott Cathcart of Cascade on Dec. 24, while Java Dock owners Chad and Allison Austin sold the coffeehouse to Andy and Angela Hill on Jan. 1.

Dockside Deli was closed for three days before it was reopened under Cathcart, who said he’s been in the restaurant industry since he was a teenager. Owning a restaurant has always been his dream, he said.

“I reached a point in my life where I needed to own my own business,” he said. 

A mutual friend who knew Voeller was looking to sell her restaurant put the two in touch with each other in August.

“All the pieces fell in place,” Voeller said.

Nothing except the ownership of the business has changed thus far — the menu and staff remain in place — although Cathcart has a few changes in mind.

Those include expanding the hours into the evening to reach the dinner crowd, opening on Sundays and perhaps tweaking the menu, expanding the line of artisanal soups and creating more of a to-go business and prepared dinners.

“More than that, I just don’t know,” Cathcart said. “I’m not going to flip the business on its ear. I don’t plan on butchering the menu and starting a new one. 

“I want to get immersed in the business. I need to get a feel for it. I know people are used to Dockside being a certain thing, and I want to build off that.” 

“He realizes the base and foundation here are really strong,” Voeller said. “I’m excited for Scott, to see where he takes the business. There’s potential here he can tap into.”

Cathcart said he has an extensive background in the restaurant business, noting he’s been an executive chef at restaurants since 2003 and has opened four restaurants from their inception.

He grew up in San Diego and moved to Wisconsin to be near family six years ago, and operated Dublin’s in West Bend before opening the Granary in Oshkosh as a part-owner.

The Granary closed after one owner left, he said, and he went on to work as the executive chef at the Radisson in Menomonee Falls in April before buying Dockside Deli.

Until meeting with Voeller in August, Cathcart said, he had never eaten at Dockside Deli. 

Voeller said she decided to sell the business she owned for the past five years and worked at for the past 12 after it became “too much and just overwhelming.”

“I enjoyed wearing the many hats one wears when they are a restaurateur,” she said, “but the day-to-day operations of running the deli coupled with the growing demands placed on me as a sole small business owner became overwhelming.

“Somewhere along the way, I lost my happiness.”

While she said she will miss her customers, she said she is excited to see what the future holds.

For now, she’s helping Cathcart make the transition to deli owner.

Voeller has been a “huge help” in the transition, Cathcart said.

“I’ve enjoyed it so far,” he said. “I’m really excited about this.”

Java Dock closed on Dec. 24 and reopened on New Year’s Day after some renovations were completed.

“A lot of people have owned the business, but they haven’t done much inside,” said Andy Hill, who also owns Elegant Estates in Port Washington.

Among the changes are new cabinets, flooring and paint on the main level, as well as a new layout intended to provide a more efficient flow for customers.

The kitchen on the lower level is also being updated, and a storage room there will be converted into additional seating in a setting ideal for meetings and study groups as well as some of the regular groups who patronize the coffeehouse, including chess and scrabble clubs and book groups. 

“It will help make us more competitive,” said Sara McManus, the coffeehouse’s longtime manager, who, like the rest of the staff, remains under the new ownership. She and Angela will run the coffee shop.

The Hills also plan some changes to the menu, adding breakfast and lunch sandwiches, salad and homemade soups to the daily selection.

“The emphasis is going to be on quick, easy but also healthy foods,” Angela said, noting many people have asked that soups be restored to the menu.

Andy Hill said he and his wife have always dreamed of owning an eatery, noting his grandparents owned and operated Hills Bar and Grill in Adell.

“There was a time in our lives we were toying with buying that,” he said. “As life moved along, we recognized we’re not bar people.”

But, he said, Angela loves making food and had worked in the restaurant industry for years.

“We knew one day we were going to own some sort of a cafe,” he said.

But they weren’t always coffee aficionados, Andy said. He enjoyed starting his day with a cup of coffee, and often stopped at Smith Bros. Coffee House in Port. 

One day he gave Java Dock a try and said he and Chad Austin formed an immediate friendship. After the Austins moved from the area last fall, the Hills approached them about taking over Java Dock.

“It was difficult for Chad,” Andy said. “A business is like a child, and he put a lot of himself into it. He developed a following and taught a lot of people in Port Washington and the area to understand what good coffee is.”

Education is part of their mission, he said, saying there’s a huge “difference between a good cup of coffee and a mass-produced cup of coffee.”

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