Drömhus Owner Crafts a “Dream House” in Sturgeon Bay
When Heather Weasler bought the former church at 611 Jefferson St. in Sturgeon Bay, her plan was to turn it into her own realty office. But soon, she realized the space couldn’t be hers alone.
“I saw an illustration of Sturgeon Bay in the late 1800s, and this place was there in this drawing,” Weasler said. “I said, ‘I can’t hog this all to myself. It’s the town’s building.’”
Through the years, the former Seventh-Day Adventist church has also been home to a bakery, cutting-board store and stationery shop, she said, and now, under her leadership, it’s Drömhus, which is Swedish for “dream house.” More specifically, it’s an eatery and a venue for both private events such as wedding receptions and, more recently, public events such as open-mic performances, improv nights and art workshops.
“I would love it to be a community staple that’s going to be around for a long time,” Weasler said. “This [building] has been, like, 700 different things, but I don’t want it to be anymore. I want it to be this.”
Drömhus is her first venture into owning an entertainment venue, but she’s far from a newbie in the Door County service industry. Her father grew up in Door County, and her family owned a house in Egg Harbor, which meant that Weasler spent her summers working at places such as Al Johnson’s in Sister Bay and the Landmark Resort in Egg Harbor. Her dream then was to eventually start a business of her own.
She went into real estate before that dream became a reality, but after spending 12 years as a Daydream Properties realtor, she’s certain that being her own boss is a necessary decision for her.
“I can’t work for anyone else anymore, even if it means I will work myself to death,” Weasler said.
And she has indeed been working hard. Though her family roots were what drew her back to Door County, that family has since scattered. So she handles most of the behind-the-scenes responsibilities herself, from payroll to social media to making baked goods.
“It is exhausting, but I have the energy for it,” she said.
Weasler is still a realtor, too, but even though Drömhus started out as her side hustle, it’s slowly “turning into my main hustle,” she said. “I never realized how much I was going to think about it. I didn’t realize that 99% of the bandwidth in my head would be dedicated to this.”
After Weasler bought the onetime church, her first move was to give it a facelift by painting, refinishing the wooden floors and redoing the bathroom.
In terms of aesthetics, Weasler’s goal is for the venue to blend old and new, combining vintage furniture with modern pops of color, local art on the walls and potted plants. Even the bathroom is decked out. It’s wallpapered with what looks like an ordinary tree pattern, but on closer inspection, the paper reveals campers being abducted by flying saucers. Leading to the bathroom is the “Hallway of Fame,” where Weasler hangs framed bathroom selfies that guests send to her.
As with decorating, deciding what to serve has been a creative endeavor, too. The menu now includes Scandinavian-inspired classics such as Swedish meatballs and lingonberry-Brie panini, as well as trendier eats such as charcuterie boards and olive flights. Weasler’s goal is to have a variety of shareable items – and “I wanted to make stuff that I wanted to eat,” she said.
In addition to juggling responsibilities behind the scenes at Drömhus, she’s also working to make a bigger name for her business, which hasn’t been an easy task.
“I would love it to be something where the community doesn’t say when they walk in, ‘Oh, I didn’t realize this was here,’” Weasler said. “I hear that every day.”
But she figures the winter is a good time to make her venue and its many offerings known to the community – hence the burst of new events Drömhus is hosting. Without as many tourists, Weasler can take time to connect with local residents.
“I really want people here in Sturgeon Bay to know that I made this place for them first,” she said.
Planning a visit? In winter, Drömhus is open Wednesdays – Saturdays, 11 am – 2 pm for lunch, then 5-8 pm for dinner. Drömhus also hosts open-mic nights every Thursday, 6-9 pm, and improv nights monthly on the first Wednesday, 6-9 pm. Monthly on the third Wednesday, Drömhus collaborates with The Pearl of Door County to present The Healing Power of Words, a spoken-word open-mic series for poets and storytellers.