Another new tavern/dining establishment is about to open its doors in downtown Eagle River in the next few weeks. Welcome to The Craftsman American Tavern in downtown Eagle River on Main St.
Owners and third-generation Justice businessmen, Matt and Brian, are meticulously constructing this hospitality enterprise with their highly-defined vision.
“The genesis of the product started with my brother and I wanting to bring something to downtown and leave our generation’s mark on the downtown area,” Matt explained.
Their grandfather and parents own and have owned stores in downtown Eagle River as well as St. Germain and Three Lakes. David and Connie Justice are very active and believe in the downtown Eagle River area. The brothers also felt this pull and this is the driving force behind their venture, The Craftsman American Tavern.
Their dream was to meld a higher-end bar with a great atmosphere where people could drink and have a good time.
“A lot of people take a tremendous amount of pride in living in Eagle River. I wanted an establishment that showed that,” said Matt. “We set some really high goals for ourselves and everything is handmade by either my brother or myself. We’ve been working on it for the last five years.”
The decor is stunning. Working on the premise that less is more and combining it with magnificent finishes and striking lighting, this tavern was designed to impress.
Impress, yes, but they have managed to maintain a casual and friendly atmosphere. The dining area is lined with banquette seating as well as bar height tables and chairs, to give that comfortable feeling. There is also a shuffleboard table down the middle of the room to add to the casual ambiance. Groups will find plenty of communal seating.
The bar area is truly eye-catching with adjustable mood lighting and a back bar that sports a library ladder to reach top-shelf liquors that are truly on the top shelf — five levels up from the bar top.
“We’ve got something for everybody, for sure!” quipped Matt.
The crafting does not end with the construction. The bar features 24 built-in taps that will pour the finest Wisconsin craft beers. Though they do not make a craft beer themselves, they are passionate about the superior quality of Wisconsin crafted beer.
The bar itself is a work of art with luxurious finishes but constructed with comfort in mind. Look for the elk — the novel presentation is impressive, to say the least.
Heading to the room beyond the bar area, there is the game room. It features a ping pong table, again built by the brothers. The furniture-quality pool table was built to match the ping pong table.
Off the game room is the complete, professional kitchen that the men designed and installed. Even Gordon Ramsey would drool over this gleaming cook area. A kitchen manager has been hired and the much-anticipated menu reveal is not too far in the future. Specialty burgers will be featured.
If you take the time you will see that every nuance is a carefully crafted creation. From the details adorning the outside of the building to the hostess stand sporting a metal-forged design created by their grandfather.
Matt is a bachelor and Brian is married. His wife Susan has been very instrumental in the project. She has helped in the design and has provided another set of eyes as the work progressed.
The design concept was developed with a very fine line.
“We wanted to make sure it felt Northwoods and still had some unique character to it. All of the lights have been custom designed. It has been a big focus of ours. None of these fixtures were just bought, they were built.”
Where did the name come from? “My brother has spent a lifetime in the trades. We always joked that I was the crafty one and Brian was the true craftsman. When I came up with the name for the bar, it really was an ode to him, a nod to his craftsmanship,” Matt told. “It was also our vision that we wanted to have an approachable Northwoods bar that was a little higher end so we thought that by combining a tradesman-themed restaurant with a more upscale esthetic that we would meet that (objective).”
Matt is a 13-year veteran of the National Guard and speaks with great enthusiasm about his love for what he does. He was recruited while he was in high school at Northland Pines and has been deployed twice to Afghanistan, the first time when he was a junior at UW Madison. He now works for the Guard full-time and is a recruiter.
The opening of The Craftsman still is in flux. However, they are targeting the last week of February for opening the bar and the dining portion should open in early March.
The Craftsman American Tavern has a Facebook page where you can keep tabs on their progress.
The address is 118 S. Main St., just north of Wall St. on the west side of the street. Hope to see you there!