Editor's note: This story is part of a series recapping the top stories of 2017. Read the other top stories here.
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."
For eight years Schmitz was a silent partner in the hotel. When his partners shut the facility down last year, Schmitz bought out their shares and is now the sole owner.
"I reopened it last June-the patio bar only. After assessments were done, we decided that it would take too much restoration to bring it back. The better option was to put up a new building," Schmitz said.
According to Schmitz, an attempt to revive the 150-year-old structure was made, but given its current state, the cost to rehab the old building was prohibitive.
"When anybody has gone through the building, they are surprised by the deterioration," Schmitz said earlier in the year. "It's got issues from mold to roofing problems to foundation problems and now that it's shut down there are codes that would have to be met [if the old building was reopened] and we would just be sinking a lot of money into it to give it ... a Band-Aid."
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.
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.