SIOUX CITY | Steve Weimer said he was over the moon when he learned a historic bar and grill was back on the market.
The former account executive for a software company said he was looking for a change of pace from a career that required constant travel.
That's why Weimer, a Sioux City native, decided to purchase the Half Moon Bar & Grill, 714 South Lewis Blvd.
"I had lived in Chicago for nearly 10 years," he said. "I knew it was time to come home."
Weimer, along with his wife and business partner Amy Weimer, knew that the bar and grill had a lot of history with many longtime Sioux Cityans.
Reviving a piece of Sioux City's history
For much of the 20th century, a small body of water known as Half Moon Lake was on the north end of what is now Pulaski Little League Park.
The crescent-shaped lake, full of bullheads and crawdads in the summertime, was filled in by the city in the early 1970s to make room for the ball park.
To the north of the lake was the original Half Moon Inn, which was known as an inexpensive place where Stockyards workers could eat and drink. Eventually, the Half Moon Inn became the Crosstown Tap, a neighborhood joint that was known for its fried chicken, gizzards and spaghetti.
Though the property had changed hands many times over the years, some things remained the same. That included the cheesy wallpaper on the wall by the bar.
"Yeah, we still have the scantily-clad ladies on the wall," Weimer said. "My dad and I cleaned and refurbished everything else but I think the wallpaper allows us to pay tribute to the bar's colorful past.'
Since the "new"Half Moon opened ts doors in November 2013, Weimer said a day doesn't go by when a patron will relay a tale by a bygone era.
"Plenty of guys apparently met their future wives in this place," he said. "I've heard that story passed down by children, grandchildren, you name it."
Still, Weimer doesn't want his bar to rest on its former glories. Instead, he thinks his Half Moon has a bright future.
Creating the modern 'neighborhood bar'
During his corporate days, Weimer would frequently take prospective clients out to dinner at small, neighborghood pubs.
"I didn't like chain restaurants and always felt small, locally owned places had the best food," he said. "A neighborhood bar had a friendlier vbe and i wanted to recreate that at the Half Moon."
To create that aesthetic, Weimer adorned the walls with vintage LP record covers from his own collection.
In addition, several big-screen TVs hang by the bar.
"We didn't want the Half Moon to be a 'music' bar, even though we book acts on occasion," Amy Weimer explained. "But we didn't want to be known as strictly a sports bar either."
"Instead, we wanted t create a bar where everyone would feel at home," she added.That's why Weimer and Scott Wilkens (of Little Chicago fame) began working on a menu that incorporated new variations on old comfort foods.
A new take on old favorites
"we wanted to create the kind of food you can't get any place else in Sioux City," Weimer said. "And we wanted to make as much food from scratch as we can."
For instance, Weimer and Wilkens created a dish called "Dublin Nachos" -- corned beef, sauerkraut, Thousand Island dressing and cheese served over waffle fries.
"It's the taste of a classic Reuben, only served over nachos," Weimer explained. "It's plate you can share with friends and it's delicious."
In addition, Half Moon serves chicken wings using a variety of different coatings and dipping sauces with a variety of different ingredients.
"All of our sauces are hand-made every day," Weimer said. "That's important to us."
Of equal importance is Half Moon's large selection of whiskeys and craft beers.
"We wanted Half Moon to fell like a neighborhood bar," Weimer maintained, "but we wanted to give it a twist."
Every night is a party
After all, not many neighborhood bars will serve you crayfish for Mardi Gras, German spaetzel on Oktoberfest, real Chicago hot dogs during baseball season and Kentucky Hot Browns (an open-faced sandwich served with sliced meats) come Kentucky Derby Time.
"Hey, what can I say," Weimer allowed. "We like to have fun here."
Reflecting on his bar on a recent weekday afternoon, Weimer said he's happy to be bringing "big city tastes" to a uniquely Sioux City bar.
"The old Half Moon Inn brings back a lot of memories to Sioux Cityans," he said. "It will be nice to see new memories made at the new Half Moon."