Would a sandwich named after America's 50th state send you over the moon?
Half Moon Bar & Grill owner Steve Weimer said he often uses daily specials as a way to gauge customer interest in new menu items like the "Hawaiian Slider" -- a meaty ham sandwich, slathered with a fresh pineapple-and-cilantro pico de gallo and served on a slider roll.
"We always enjoy trying new things," he said inside the bar at 714 S. Lewis Blvd. "Our lunchtime soup and sandwich menu allows us to experiment."
In addition to the slider, Weimer said his kitchen staff is also testing such unusual sandwiches as the roast beef and guacamole and vegetarian-friendly jalapeno and pablano pepper sandwiches.
"We're always pushing the envelope when it comes to our food," he admitted. "Our customers are always quick to tell us what they like and what they want."
This is exactly what Weimer expected when he and wife Amy decided to revive a historic Sioux City bar and grill more than two years ago.
For many years, the original Half Moon Inn -- named after a crescent-shaped man-made lake -- was known as an inexpensive place where Stockyards workers could eat and drink. Eventually, the Half Moon became the Crosstown Tap, a neighborhood joint known for its broasted chicken, gizzards and spaghetti.
Weimer, a Sioux City native, remembered the quaint, working class bar with a great deal of nostalgia.
"For many years, I worked as a territory manager for a number of businesses and was based out of Chicago," he explained. "Whenever I'd take clients out to dinner, I'd take them to hole-in-the-wall restaurants instead of big chain places."
When Weimer decided to move back to Sioux City, he wanted to recreate the sort of mom-and-pop eateries he frequented.
"You can't pick up local colors in a chain restaurant," he noted. "In my mind, the original Half Moon was the ultimate hole-in-the-wall joint."
However, the new Half Moon Bar & Grill has always offered food that went well beyond broasted chicken and spaghetti.
Since taking ownership, Weimer has introduced such unique fare as Dublin Nachos (corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing served on waffle fries); Cincinnati Chili Cheese Nachos (Cincinnati-styled chili, cheddar, sour cream and onions served over tortilla chips); and "The Dibble" sandwich (salami, pepperoni, capicola, ham, turkey provolone cheese that is served with a homemade Italian relish on a fresh-baked roll).
"I'm a 'foodie' who is also married to a 'foodie,'" Amy Weimer, Steve Weimer's wife and business partner, explained with a smile. "That works out fine when we're putting together a menu."
Amy Weimer said she worked extensively with Half Moon's kitchen staff in the creation of the Hawaiian Slider.
"We experimented with a Hawaiian sweet roll but that proved too wimpy for such a hearty sandwich," she said. "Instead, we went with a slider roll and (head cook) Francisco created a special pico de gallo that absolutely makes the sandwich."
Amy Weimer said she expects much more experimentation in the future. That's especially true since her husband is back on the road.
"For the past few months, I've been working as a territory manager for a healthcare software company," Weimer said. "That means I'll be eating at hole-in-the-walls around the Midwest and, perhaps, picking up some inspiration."
So what's on the drawing board for the Half Moon Bar & Grill? If Amy Weimer has her way, maybe something from the Far East.
"I'd love to learn how to make sushi," she said. "Steve and I may be the only ones who eat it but we both love sushi."