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WAUKESHA - It's unlikely there'll be an 80th anniversary celebration for John's Root Beer, an iconic drive in that serves up summer Americana on the east side of town.

Or classic car shows.

Or hiring six to eight high school and college students for the expected uptick in seasonal business at the hot dog and root beer stand during warm-weather months.

Here's what John Meehean, owner of John's Root Beer, 1317 Arcadian Ave., does know.

He can expect his bright orange business ringed with well-manicured picnic areas to become coated in dirt and dust from the demolition and rebuilding of Arcadian Avenue – a road project in front of his business that won't be done until Oct. 13, at the earliest.

Obvious impact

Meehean business revenue is down by at least 50 percent. 

"I have all kind of fears," Meehean said in an interview Friday, May 19. "The main worry is staying open for as long as I can."

Meehean did not want to publicly disclose how much money he expects to lose weekly during his high-earnings months of May through August. But it's not peanuts.  

Meehean, 60, bought the business 26 years ago. It's a regular stop for youth groups, local sports teams, parents taking kids out for affordable fast food and and thirst-quenching root beer. Lunch crowds that want quick bites to eat is another business standard there. 

Road construction traditionally is hazardous to the financial well being of neighboring businesses. Easy access usually is eliminated when streets are reduced to rubble and motorists are re-routed by "road closed" signs mounted on street barriers.

Meehean said his business is confronted with the same challenge.

"They are doing all they can to prevent customers from coming here by keeping traffic to a minimum," he said. "They are doing all they can to ruin my  business."  

Reason for it all

The road project began in mid-May with We Energies upgrading gas mains and laterals, city project engineer Craig Austen said. That work is expected to be done by July 1.

Starting this month, the city will upgrade water and sanitary sewer pipes beneath  the street before reconstructing Arcadian Avenue with concrete, Austen said.

Construction is just east of Oakland to Blackstone avenues. Arcadian Avenue is open to local traffic but not through traffic, Austen said, a common practice to protect the safety of road workers and provide lifelines to residents and businesses along the construction route.

Meehean said he will buy signs to post on the east and west blockades that announce that his place, Billy D's tavern and a nearby car wash/laundromat are open for business during construction.

The blockades have small portals that allow local traffic to squeeze into the construction area, but Meehean said the openings are barely visible and the "road closed" signs discourage customers from navigating to Arcadian Avenue businesses.

Meehean is hoping loyal customers will overcome the roadblocks to keep his business solvent.

"I don't know what I'm going to do," he said. "I'm barely hanging in there to pay my bills."

 

 

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