May 9, 2018 – Allenton, WI – It’s still a couple weeks away yet but watch for Mark Merten, 56, to take over Aiden O’ Reilly’s in Allenton.
Merten, a native of Slinger and 1980 graduate of Slinger High School, said he was looking for something new and found it in the bar/restaurant, 402 Main Street, in Allenton.
“I like the woodwork in the place and the back bar reminds me of an old soda bar from the 1800s,” said Merten.
While O’Reilly’s has the atmosphere of an Irish-pub, Merten said that can easily be changed.
“We’re going to call it Slippery Rail,” said Merten. “We were thinking about The Whistle Stop but we were looking at the LLC list and there is already a campground with dib’s on that. My wife started looking at old railroad terms and the Slippery Rail seemed to stick; the names got a nice kick.”
Merten grew up in the food business. He spoke fondly about his memories of working alongside Joe and LuAnne Schwai when they ran Schwai’s in Cedar Creek.
“I’d help them butcher deer and run the restaurant,” he said. “When the County Fair was still in Slinger I’d work with them at their booth. I know Tommy and Mike well and I worked with LuAnne and Joe and the sunshine thing and all that.”
Merten’s mind raced with memories of Schwai’s and the old country store with cases of beer, people coming in on the weekends, the meat counter, and the old terrazzo floor.
“I really missed all that and that’s what I liked about this restaurant/bar is the big back bar, the décor, the changes made since the fire, the upstairs hall is nice; there’s a lot of quality in this old building it’s nice to see it maintained,” he said.
Along with the name change Merten said he will be adding real broasted chicken by Trademark and once he’s situated he’ll explore adding take out to the menu.
“The big thing is I want to maintain the current customer base and keep everybody happy,” he said.
Merten expects to close on the deal with owner Mike Duchelle on May 29.
On a history note: The brick building that sits to the east of the Canadian National Railway dates to 1912. It used to be the old Central Hotel. Over the years the name changed to Side Track and later Grand Central Station.