By Royal Brevvaxling Special to Published Aug 17, 2012 at 2:51 PM

The Salty Dog, 3479 E. Plankinton Ave. in Cudahy, celebrates its grand opening at 3 p.m. today.

"But the party starts at 7 p.m.," says co-owner Lisa Hipp.

The new bar has several opening night specials, including Bud Light Lime-a-ritas for $3, Vegas bombs for $4 and Cruzan rum buckets, filled with various juices and Cruzan, beginning at $9.

The Salty Dog had a soft opening at 7 p.m. last night, where it was expected that most of its discounted "inherited beer" would be sold at $2 apiece.

The Salty Dog was formerly Sassy Sue's, in addition to a few other things, including most recently Red Stone, which closed last month. Some of the remaining inventory shifted to the new owners, who took only 12 days to furiously remodel the bar and make it their own.

Hipp and Salty co-owners Don Schermer and Anthony Winneshiek talked for a couple of years about opening a bar, but were never seriously looking.

"This place fell into our lap. The previous owner wanted to retire from the bar business and overheard us talking one night," says Hipp.

Things progressed quickly from there. The three new owners got the keys Aug. 1 and went to work.

Schermer built a new back bar, including a counter for two new pizza ovens. They remodeled both bathrooms and had Southwest Home Improvements install fencing for a new backyard beer garden.

"So many supporters have come to us wanting us to succeed," says Hipp. "Like Angie Ratliff, who came in with her two daughters and cleaned this place top to bottom, and Arlo Griese, without him this place would not be put together in time."

It was important to the owners to get everything back together in time for fall dart and pool leagues, which begin Sept. 1.

The Salty Dog has two pool tables and three dart boards, including a Galaxy III Live, which shows the shooter on a video screen below the board and to others remotely via the Internet.

"During league play, if you're supposed to be someplace else, you can stay at your home (bar) and they can see you at the bar down the street," says Hipp.

This part of town depends on leagues, say The Salty Dog's owners, but they may have felt a personal responsibility to open the bar in time for leagues as much as one to future customers.

"We were on dart leagues here when it was Red Stone," says Hipp.

The owners see The Salty Dog as a destination for dart and pool play, as well as a good place to hang out with friends. Schermer says they see the bar as a much needed middle ground between all the corner taverns around them, which are about half the size, and the larger and popular City Lounge, located down the street at 3455 E. Layton Ave.

But The Salty Dog's niche? The Bimini Ring game, a vaguely English game popularized in a few Caribbean islands that is perhaps also called "ring the bull," during which a ring is swung from twine attached to the ceiling and directed at a hook mounted on a post or on the wall.

The Salty Dog has four Bimini Ring games, three on poles located in the beer garden and one on a post in the center of the tavern.

"Bimini is a Jupiter, Florida staple," says Hipp, whose dad lives there. She and Schermer visit three or four times a year. "The last time we were there, in April, we played for hours and decided that if we ever opened a bar, it had to have Bimini."

The Salty Dog has 32 beers, including four domestics on tap with Corona, Red Stripe, Guinness, Bass and Stella Artois in bottles as well as more domestic classics like Riverwest Stein and Pabst tall boys.

The Salty Dog bakes frozen pizzas made at Sneezy's Denoon Saloon (off Lake Denoon in Muskego) in its new pizza ovens.

"They commercialized their pizza making, just recently starting to freeze and sell them. Anthony knows the owner; they are the best pizzas," says Hipp.

Schermer and Winneshiek manage a mortgage loan and real estate company in St. Francis and Hipp manages an international medical management firm, mostly from her computer at home. All three say they lead hectic lives but could't pass up on their dream.

The owners have a 12-month lease on the space and plan to reevaluate in a year, perhaps offering to buy the building and expanding to the upper level, which is just storage at this time.

"There's two flat-topped patio roofs up there," says Schermer. "In Milwaukee, rooftop spaces are a commodity."

Schermer may also turn a shed in the back into a tiki bar in the spring.

They have a full staff of eight bartenders hired and ready to go. The jukebox is loaded up with Jimmy Buffet, country and classic rock. The new paint is (barely) dry and all the new wood out back smells pleasantly like new wood.

"Our main focus it just to have fun. We want it to be a good place," says Schermer.

Royal Brevvaxling Special to
Royal Brevväxling is a writer, educator and visual artist. As a photo essayist, he also likes to tell stories with pictures. In his writing, Royal focuses on the people who make Milwaukee an inviting, interesting and inspiring place to live.

Royal has taught courses in critical pedagogy, writing, rhetoric and cultural studies at several schools in Wisconsin and Minnesota. He is currently Adjunct Associate Professor of Humanities at Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design.

Royal lives in Walker’s Point with his family and uses the light of the Polish Moon to illuminate his way home.