For the first time since the 1870s, a business other than the Hammond Hotel is open at the main intersection of highways 12 and T in the Village of Hammond.
Cheap Andy's Saloon, a bar and restaurant, held its grand opening event on Saturday, Sept. 9, after holding a soft opening earlier in the week. Although the old structure might have been demolished in April, Cheap Andy's owner Andrew Schmitz made a point to incorporate as much of the old building into the new restaurant as possible.
"The hotel was such a focal point in the community on this corner, that we just felt that it was very important to keep as much as we could of the old building and the old theme. My parents used to take me to the Hammond Hotel as a kid and my grandfather used to come here, and so on, so I've got a strong connection to the building as well," Schmitz said. "We still have some other tables being finished that were made from the doors of the hotel, which were 140 years old."
Along with the new tables made from old doors, Cheap Andy's also features the original bar from the old building, which was professionally refinished. All the dark trim seen throughout the building and around the windows was reclaimed from the floors of the Hammond Hotel. And the corner of the dining room features a section of an old beam from the original hotel.
Schmitz said the original plan was to have a longer soft opening period for the new restaurant, but heavy rains early in the construction process, as well as the normal obstacles of construction, pushed the soft opening back farther than originally planned.
"We were able to get everything ready the day before the grand opening weekend, so things have been a little tight," Schmitz said.
The new restaurant's menu is a combination of home cooked favorites, such as meatloaf and open faced turkey sandwiches, and bar food, such as burgers.
"We took a lot of suggestions from customers on the menu to get a feeling of what the people in the area would like," Schmitz said.
Hours for the Cheap Andy's are 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. every day. The restaurant features an inside and outside bar, as well as a huge patio. A new multipurpose sports court will be opened in the spring featuring a rubber floor and a covered area to play dodgeball, bean bag and other sports.
"People who have seen it already have said it has a warm and homey feeling; and also has some real character to it," Schmitz said. "It is unique, different and one of a kind. You need to check it out and see what it is all about."
For more information on Cheap Andy's, find the Hammond Hotel Facebook page, which has been converted to feature the new restaurant.