Editor’s Note: Kicks presents 20Q, a feature that introduces readers to people involved in the area’s arts and entertainment community. Compiled by kicks Editor Greg Little, each piece will include a short bio, photo and answers to questions that provide insight into not only that person’s artistic interests but also his or her unique personality.
For the past 12 years, Sigwell has had the distinction of owning a Janesville institution.
Now known as Zoxx 411 Club, the tavern at 411 W. State St. sits just beyond the front steps of the shuttered General Motors plant. In its heyday, the former Zachow’s served as a haven for GM workers—many of whom regularly jumped the fences GM put around the bar to deter them from visiting at lunchtime.
Sigwell bought the bar from his stepfather, Jim Zachow, who bought it in 1989 from his parents, Roy and Geri Zachow.
A Janesville native, Sigwell attended high school at Rockford Lutheran High in Rockford, Illinois. After graduating in 1987, he went into the Army for three years—getting out just two weeks before Operation Desert Storm in 1991. Sigwell’s military unit was among the first deployed as part of the combat mission.
After leaving service, Sigwell worked as a janitor and on maintenance jobs for 15 years before buying the bar, which had been in his family since 1962. Today, when he’s not at the bar, he spends time with his girlfriend, Christine Granger, and takes aerial photos with his drone.
To learn more about Zoxx 411 Club, search for “Zoxx 411 Club” on Facebook.
1. Name one song on your jukebox you could go your entire life without ever hearing again. I’d be good if I never heard the Lauren Bennett and Goonrock song “Party Rock Anthem” again. It’s just rather annoying.
2. Zachow’s, the former iteration of Zoxx 411, is a Janesville institution. Has it been difficult for Zoxx to develop its own identity, or do you embrace its history? Since the (General Motors) plant has closed, Zoxx has a new identity, for sure. People like hearing the stories of when it was the GM bar. It was open to anyone, but most thought it was a private club due to its location.
3. When it comes to making drinks, what is your personal specialty? Zoxx has always been a very simple place. It’s not a martini bar. Spiced rum and coke is the specialty or, should I say, what is the best seller.
4. Describe the demographic of the barfly who tends to come into Zoxx 411 Club. Zoxx is a blue-collar, neighborhood bar. The hour between 5 and 6 p.m. is rather entertaining with the concept of $1 drinks, which includes your choice of rail or domestic beers.
5. What possessed you to get into the bar business? I worked for a good 10 years with my family before I bought Zoxx. I saw the potential with GM being next door and decided to take the plunge and buy it.
6. When your bar was Zachow’s, it had what you could call a captive audience with the GM workforce. With General Motors no longer in town, how do you draw people to your place? (The plant) closed in a very slow fashion, so I had time to re-create the place. Most people came in out of curiosity, and some became regulars simply because it was in their neighborhood and they found it inviting.
7. What is the strangest thing you’ve ever seen happen at your bar? Too many to name. I guess the day the plant closed in 2008 was the strangest. It was rather surreal.
8. What did you have for dinner last night? Meatloaf. By far my favorite.
9. Is there a current drink trend with your clientele that is popular, but you just can’t understand why? Bang bangs. It’s just vodka and lemonade, but it’s slammed like a bomb drink.
10. I’ve known one of your bartenders, Katie Drake, since she was a little kid. Is she doing a good job? Katie does very well. She always wears a smile and is ready to give you the boot if you’re not behaving.
11. If you could meet anybody, living or dead, who would it be? A fella by the name JG Thirlwell. He’s an amazing musician, and I’d have plenty to ask him.
12. What are you afraid of? Heights. I still challenge myself by flying in little planes, going on roller coasters and going to high places and looking over the edge.
13. People would be surprised to know that I: Modeled nude for seven years at UW-Rock for a life drawing class. They were fun times, and I still see people today that took the class.
14. What’s the one item that always goes into your shopping cart whether you need it or not? Pretzels. Who doesn’t like a pretzel?
15. It seems all bars have some sort of theme these days. How would you describe Zoxx 411 Club to someone who has never been in it? It’s a friendly place. I have to say the silly costumes we have set us apart from other bars. I have boxes of them, and they get brought out regularly.
16. What was your first car, and how did you get it? A 1971 AMC Javelin. It was a fun first car. I bought it with my paper route and dishwashing job money in 1985.
17. If you were immortal for a day, what would you do? Pass by security at the old GM factory and walk the place. I keep asking for a tour, and they tell me “no.”
18. You’re right over there by the old GM plant. What do YOU think should be done with the property? It should be redeveloped for other industry. Hopefully that happens soon with the company that’s recently showed interest.
19. Do you keep up with the Kardashians? No, it’s not necessary.
20. As a bartender, have you ever been asked for advice? Always. I’m sure I don’t have the best advice, but it I’m always willing to give it. My best advice always is to stay for one more.