West Bend, Wi – In light of the tragic fire this week at Braising Pan we take a look back at the history of that lot on the northwest corner of Main Street and Park Avenue in West Bend, WI.
The 7,332-square-foot parcel is known as the Pinewood Neighborhood Shopping Center and it was formerly home to Park-Way Frozen Custard.
The property was previously owned by RE Investment Properties, which has ties to Ron Gundrum. He purchased the lot in 1996 and sold October 25, 2021 to Michael and Kelsey Bardenwerper of Kewaskum.
The entire commercial lot is 57,499-square feet and sits on 1.320 acres. The land in 2021 was assessed at $180,900, improvements $538,800 for a total value of $719,700. In 2021 the parcel sold for $840,000.
There is a lot of history on that little location.
In 1946, Roland Jaeger returned from the war and set to work opening a custard stand and restaurant; the Park-Way Frozen Custard Drive In was born.
It was located on the north edge of town. An advertisement from the Historical Society shows the Park-Way next to West Bend City Park on the corner of Park Avenue and Highway 45.
‘Visit our delicatessen, featuring gallon milk, bread, sausage, cheese. Every weekend: potato salad, baked ham, fresh rolls, fresh fruits and vegetables. Open every evening until 12:00.’
“My father Roland and his brother Wilbert were partners in building and running that store,” said Douglas Jaeger. “Their mother, Adele Jaeger, spent her weekends cooking the ham, baked beans, and German style potato salad. Roland and Will had drive-in services, deli, and indoor service.”
It was the milk that sparked early memories of Park-Way for Kevin O’Meara of West Bend.
“As a little boy Park-Way was way on the other end of town; it was one of few places open on Sundays to buy milk,” said O’Meara.
Doug Gonring of Kewaskum was also the milk runner in his family. “I used to have to run down to Park-Way and buy milk for my grandmothers who both lived on North Ninth Street; they would give us green stamps after a purchase,” said Gonring.
An ad from 1957 showed Don and Jerry Vander Heyden had purchased the business from the Jaeger Brothers, who moved downtown after the sale and opened the Parkette candy shop at 151 N. Main St. which was the site of the old Consumer’s Milk and Ice Cream Company.
“The Parkette in downtown West Bend was the last of about 3 or 4 stores Roland had down there for either candy or cameras,” said Douglas. “Will was never part of downtown Parkette. When they sold the Park Way, Will purchased an A&W root-beer drive in in Marinette. The first few years he commuted, but eventually moved his family up there. His daughter still lives up there.”
According to records from the West Bend Building Inspector’s office the Vander Heyden’s undertook a remodeling project in June 1961 and put an addition on the Park-Way building. Later, a canopy was added for drive-in customers.
Business at the Park-Way in the 1960’s included a delicatessen, catering, inside restaurant and the drive-in.
“They had car hops and inside seating,” said Jerry Mehring of West Bend.
Mehring owned a small Dairy Queen across the street from the Park-Way.
“They had carryout fried chicken; we used to buy it and take it to Madison for the Badger game,” he said.
Mike Paul of Kewaskum also had vivid memories of the Park-Way from the late 60’s.
“A great aunt from Milwaukee would take us there for lunch,” said Paul. “Grilled cheese was a dime and there was a revolving rack of fascinating dime-store toys, including a bag of plastic Army men, near the checkout counter.”
Paul said the Park-Way was also where he “learned not to keep sucking on the straw after you got to the bottom of the cup.”
“That was a valuable life lesson,” he said.
After that, it was used by Ted Lauck Chevrolet for storing new cars.
In 1972 the Park-Way became the Village Inn Nightclub featuring live music, dinners and cocktails. Later the corner lot was a bar called Thomae’s.
In 1988 the bar closed and Jerry Vander Heyden opened Jerry’s Restaurant & Park-Way Catering at 817 S. Main St.
In 1996 Ron Gundrum bought the building and put on another addition. In February 1998 the strip mall was added and the address changed to 1100 -1116 N. Main.
2021 tax and assessment information is below.