When the Jackson family acquired the old Mewes house in Pierron about a year ago, they had no idea what they wanted to do with the property.
“We wanted to bring something back to Pierron that would help us and help the community,” Joe Jackson said.
But on their initial walk through they saw the building’s old bones, classic woodwork and leaden glass cabinets and knew with a little bit of elbow grease it could become something special.
The house, located at 206 Illinois 143 in Pierron, will be the new site for a simple foods venue called the Wooden Tie Cafe. Until Labor Day, the targeted opening date, the Jacksons are working together to get the building up to code and ready for its debut. But working as a team is one thing that seems to come naturally to this family.
Joe Jackson runs the carpentry side of the project, while his wife, Mary, handles social media, simultaneously keeping their two kids, 8 and 5, out of trouble. Joe’s brother, Andy, is the businessman; he handles all the sales talk and public relations. Bob, better known as Dad, covers industrial operations. He makes sure the house has utilities and the equipment needed to run smoothly. And Sharon, does what moms do best.
“She’s these guys’s number one fan,” Mary said.
Even the kids have a part to play; Emma, 8, plans to be the cafe’s baker, and Tommy, 5, has the duties of snow removal and lawn care. He will also oversee all operations over his favorite piece of restaurant equipment, the meat smoker.
About the cafe
The house was originally built in 1903 by the Mewes family, who owned a grocery store in Pierron. The Jacksons are planning to use as much of the original building as possible, without changing any of its classic features.
“Everything is original,” Joe said.
The restaurant will have an open ceiling to add a little bit of rustic feel. The front area of the house will provide dining seating, with handmade chairs and tables. The cafe will also include a bar behind the main seating area and overflow/large party seating upstairs. The family said the house has come a long way in just six months.
“It’s been a lot of very long days, sleepless nights and a lot of hard work,” Joe said.
The family wants to keep the cafe simple with breakfast, lunch and dinner, five days a week, excluding Mondays and Tuesdays. They do not have any specific menu plans yet, because they are focusing on the rebuild. However, Joe said they do know many of the dishes will have signature smoked meats and one other special request item: a horseshoe sandwich.
As for the name Wooden Tie, it came from exactly that.
“It was kind of a joke that caught on,” Joe said.
Joe made a wooden tie as a gag-gift. After he had worn it around town a few times, the tie began to gain attention on social media. The joke became the natural choice for a name, and the Wooden Tie Cafe was born. While the tie is not currently on display, it is rumored that it will make an appearance at the grand opening.
All jokes aside, the Jacksons made it clear that they would be lost without the help and support of their community. He said their words of encouragement keep the Jacksons going when it matters.
“This is not what we do,” Joe said. “This is a big gamble for us. The amount of support we have had from everybody has just been overwhelming.”