Maybe you want your Friday Fish Dinner on a Wednesday. All year ’round. Well, you’ll just have to go to Hell.
Mike “Smitty” Hickey opened the Hell Hole Bar in the former Hell In A Handbasket diner and party store location at 4025 Patterson Lake Road in 2015.
As the longtime owner of the landmark Dam Site Inn, Hickey sold that business and retired. Or so he thought.
“That didn’t go so well,” he said with a smile on recent winter afternoon.
John Colone, unofficial “mayor” of Hell and owner of the property, had wanted Hickey to take over the diner. With retirement not impressing him much, Hickey finally agreed, and the Hell Hole — which he admits took about “one minute” to name — opened for business.
You can get fried perch, walleye, blue gill and cod every day at the Hell Hole, along with some broiled options as well (crab and shrimp stuffed walleye, anyone?). “People around here love their fried fish. I love fish — and this fish is good. Limiting it to just Fridays, you end up wasting a lot of good fish. It’s just smart business,” he said when asked about the bar’s most popular dishes.
After fish dinners, huge pasties (both chicken and beef) are the popular choice followed by sandwiches and pizza. Soups and salads fill out the menu. Everything is homemade, including the bread. “Nothing comes out of can,” Hickey said. He even makes his own Italian sausage, pastrami and corned beef.
In addition to the good food, Hickey thinks his pricing is also a draw for locals and estimates his meals run up to $3 less than other places in the county.
The Hell Hole hosts a small bar with draft beer and cocktails, and a wall of coolers featuring bottled beer, ciders and hard lemonades, wine, and soft drinks. Hickey’s line of salsas, sauces and top-selling Hell of a Caesar Bloody Mary Mix are also for sale.
In the summer, an outdoor tent goes up that can accommodate up to 100 people for dining, events and parties. The Hell Hole also caters.Even on this winter mid-afternoon – it is well after traditional weekday lunch time – several tables are clearly enjoying sandwiches, burgers, and, of course fish. “The food is really good here,” several of them assure me as they dig in.
Hickey jokes about the food being “made with love, blah, blah, blah” but his passion is obvious. When asked “What’s your favorite food to make?”, he pauses for a moment before saying “F-O-O-D.”