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Duluth Trading Hooked on Port's Historic Charm

The workwear retailer set to open this fall in Port Washington also has plans to bring back the historic fish sandwich for sale in the Smith Brothers Coffee House, as well as other touches to recognize the building's history.

In bringing something new to Port Washington's downtown, business owners of Duluth Trading Company also hope to restore some of the city's history.

The apparel retailer that will sell "workwear" for men and women in the former Smith Brothers building by fall also plans to take over the and add a small menu — including fish sandwiches, architect Mike Ehrlich told the Design and Review board on Monday.

"(They plan a) very small operation, but (are) really trying to push the historic fish sandwich," Ehrlich said, adding he thinks its a great idea. "Talking to people at the coffee shop (now), they said a day doesn’t go by when someone doesn’t stop by and go, 'Do you guys sell fish?'"

The company has also discussed selling other local food items on its menu, Ehrlich said, offering the example of smoked fish from . Duluth Trading also plans murals representing Port's fishing history.

Other changes planned for the space include the shifting of the main entry more to the center of the Franklin Street side and the addition of signs and some accent lighting on the gables, Port Director of Planning and Development Randy Tetzlaff wrote in an e-mail. The company also plans to add a lift at the rear of the building, adjacent to the boardwalk, for deliveries; a temporary trash enclosure; and a loading zone. 

Haag Muller will complete the exterior work on the building, and the company has hired a store remodeler for the inside of the building, Tetzlaff said.

The Port Washington Design and Review Board approved the plans on Monday. They will be discussed again at the Plan Commission meeting on Tuesday.

. The Wisconsin-based business has only has one other location, in Mt. Horeb; Huebner said that store draws 300,000 customers from outside Mt. Horeb, and the company is hopeful it will do the same for Port.

"As people come from Milwaukee to shop there, they will shop at the other stores (in Port) and that will be a great thing," Huebner said.

Steve Schlecht, CEO of Duluth Trading Co., chose Port Washington as the home of the company’s second retail store for good reason, according to a press release from the company.

"The Port Washington area and landmark Smith Bros. Fish Shanty in the heart of the historic downtown will make this Duluth Trading store a destination,” Schlecht said in the press release. "We’re fortunate to have found the Smith Bros. building and look forward to becoming part of a vital downtown Port Washington."

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