Downtown FDL Partnership Holds Annual Meeting, Hands Out Awards

It was a banner year for downtown Fond du Lac. 15 New businesses opened up, dropping the vacancy rate downtown to just under 5%. That’s down from 10.2% in 2013. 

Those are just some of the statistics to come out of the DFP’s Annual Meeting which was held at the Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts. Fond du Lac became a Wisconsin Main Street Community in 2004, and since then, over $130 million has been invested privately into the area. 

A number of awards were handed out as well at the event, including Exterior Design of the Year Award presented to 18 Hands Ale Haus; Interior Design of the Year presented to Hotel Retlaw; and favorite new downtown business of the year awarded to HempWorks Wisconsin and The Hair Lounge. 

Amy Hansen, DFP executive director, highlighted the upcoming year, including the city’s plan for reconstruction of N. Main Street between Merrill and Johnson, which will include new roadway, sideways and light poles. When completed, this project will have considerable visual impact on the north entrance for downtown. 

Other highlights included Downtown Deli to Go’s new location, the opening of Top Shelf Bar & Grill as well as the addition of their outdoor dining area, the completion of 18 Hands Ale Haus and the much-anticipated completion of the Hotel Retlaw, including Jazzmine’s Brasserie, The Espresso Bar, The Tasting Room, Quintessence Spa and the relocation of Texture Salon.

The Exterior Design of the Year Award was presented to Sam Meyer for his exterior renovation of 18 E. Division, now home to 18 Hands Ale Haus.  In 2018, Sam Meyer purchased and completely restored 18 E. Division Street into a first-floor tavern and Biergarten, with upper level residential lofts. 

Interior Design of the Year was Presented to Legendary Hotels for Hotel Retlaw. The interior design is the work of Yvonne Roberts, Principal at Legendary Hotels and Creative Director of Guru of Luxury. 

Two businesses were chosen to receive the Best New Business of the Year. HempWorks Wisconsin owners Matt Wirtz and Ben Mueller, located at 188 N. Main Street, and Hair Lounge owner Vicente Lezama Morales, located at 104 S. Main Street were the recipients. 

Nicole Wiese was the recipient of the 2019 Friend of Downtown Award, an annual award given to a person or organization that has had major impact on the partnership. The 2018 Volunteer of the Year award, presented to an individual who made significant contributions over the previous year, was awarded to Aubriana Donahue. 

The Downtown Legacy Award, awarded to a business that has been in downtown for at least 50 years, was given to the Fond du Lac Public Library. The complete DFP 2019 Annual Report can be found at