Category Archives: Local Business

Another Step Toward Cleaner Indoor Air

You will no longer be able to smoke e-cigarettes and similar devices in indoor public spaces in South Milwaukee, according to an ordinance change backed by the South Milwaukee City Council by a 5-3 vote on Tuesday.

The revised ordinance essentially extends the restrictions placed on traditional cigarettes to e-cigarettes, meaning the latter can no longer be used in “any enclosed space of a public place or place of employment,” among other places.

I support the ban, and I think the ordinance purpose statement sums it up well …

The Common council recognized that smoking of cigarettes and tobacco products is hazardous to an individual’s health and may affect the health of nonsmokers/smokers when they are involuntarily in the presence of smoking. Reliable scientific studies assessed by credible health officials have found that secondhand tobacco smoke is a significant health hazard for children, elderly people, and individuals with cardiovascular disease or impaired respiratory function. Air pollution caused by smoking is an offensive annoyance and irritant. Smoking results in serious and significant physical discomfort to nonsmokers. The purported health benefits from electronic smoking devices (commonly known as e-cigarettes, e-pipes and several other trade and brand names) have not been scientifically proven, and use of these devices has not been proven safe, either for their users or for bystanders. Research indicates electronic smoking devices may lead youth to try other tobacco products. In addition, research indicates that youth who use electronic smoking devices are more likely to use tobacco products, including cigarettes, than those youth who do not use electronic smoking devices. Adopting this ordinance will promote the health, safety, comfort and general welfare of the people of the City of South Milwaukee, and especially the health interests of nonsmokers, who constitute a majority of the population of the City.

Governments can and should play a role in promoting public health, and creating regulations to do so. This is a good example of the city being proactive in doing that, even as the state determines its position on the issue.

Of course, there is reasonable disagreement on this. But, for me, as one advocate said at Tuesday’s city council meeting, allowing even e-cigarette smoking is “an invasion of clean indoor air.” It’s our job to protect against that invasion, stand up for public health and send a message that all smoking is bad. We are doing that with this ordinance change.


Filed under Health, Local Business, South Milwaukee

Grillworks: New Restaurant Eyed For Former Nona’s Cafe, Grebe’s

Grillworks wants to continue the legacy of great food coming out of the building at 2206 10th Ave.

South Milwaukee’s newest downtown restaurant, in the former of home of Nona’s Cafe and Grebe’s, will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner and feature a “supper club-style” menu with a small bar area serving Old Fashioneds and ice cream-type drinks, as well as bakery items and hot ham on Sundays.

That’s according to Jessica Hess, who will operate the restaurant, and her family, the Orens, the former owners of Slick Willie’s (well regarded for its terrific food).

The city council’s Legislation and Permits Committee approved the establishment’s Class B liquor license at its meeting on Tuesday. It will go the full council in coming weeks.

I’ll keep you posted as the reopening date approaches. And welcome, Grillworks!

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Filed under Downtown, Local Business, South Milwaukee

Going Big With Little Free Libraries

Little Free Library

Update: A point clarification, only those who requested libraries initially will get one for free. We are accepting no more requests for the complimentary libraries. 

So, you might remember in June that we put a call out to local residents interested in giving Caterpillar’s former Little Free Library a good home. We had a great response. Eleven people said they wanted one of these in front of their homes!

So we began wondering, “How can we say ‘yes’ to everyone who asked?’”

Well, we’re proud to announce that everyone who initially asked for one, will get one. That is due to a generous donation of time and expertise from local woodworker Larry Oleson.

I just met Larry a few weeks ago, and if you’ve driven down 15th Avenue near City Hall over the years, you may know some of his work. His carved wood (and some metal) pieces adorn the front of his house 2413 15th Ave., and he has even more terrific works in his garage, from tables and chairs to wooden animals.

He’s also no stranger to Little Free Libraries. He’s constructed more than a dozen over the years.

So when I asked him about taking this on, Larry was more than happy to help.

So was Ace Hardware, which is donating paint and stain for the project, and the South Milwaukee Library, which is donating some of the wood (from old library shelves) that Larry will use and provide some books for the libraries, as needed.

The plan: Larry now has the list of people who expressed interest in the libraries and will begin construction soon. The goal is to have everyone their free library by the time the snow flies, starting with the one from Cat.

I am really excited about this community partnership, and I want to thank Caterpillar, Ace, the library and especially Larry for his contributions.

This is why I love South Milwaukee!

Be sure to check out Larry’s work for yourself at his home. Give him a call first at 414-764-6786. Tell him I said hi, and please thank him personally for stepping up to help with this project.


Filed under Caterpillar, Library, Local Business, South Milwaukee

Celebrating South Milwaukee, With T-Shirts

Tshirt4 Tshirt5 Tshirt6

JB’s Tee Shirt Factory is giving South Milwaukeeans a chance to wear their community pride.

The new downtown t-shirt shop, which opened at 1233 Milwaukee Ave.. earlier this year, has designed three t-shirts featuring local scenes they aim to sell starting later this month.

First, they want your help in choosing the top designs.

See the three options and vote for your favorite from their Facebook page here.

(For those not on Facebook, here is a link right to the voting document.)

The shirts portray iconic parts of our city like Grant Park’s Seven Bridges and the downtown railroad depot, as well as a modernized version of the old “Homes | Parks | Industries” city welcome signs (which I love, by the way).

The two designs with the most votes will be sold at the Firehouse Spaghetti Dinner on July 22 and the South Milwaukee Downtown Market/Evening on the Avenue on July 23, and other community events. You can also buy the shirts at the t-shirt shop, with more retail opportunities coming soon.

Each shirt will cost $15, with $5 of each sale going to support and grow city-sponsored celebrations like July 4th, Community Night Out, and our Christmas festivities.

I want to thank Aaron and his team at JB’s for driving this great community- and business-building effort, and I’m happy to get behind it. I love these kinds of things.

I can’t wait to get my hands on a shirt, and show my South Milwaukee pride. Join me!

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Filed under Local Business, South Milwaukee

Welcome Back, Papa Luigi’s II


“How you doin’?” asked the voice on the other end of the phone, and I knew exactly who it was.

It was Sal Purpora, of course, owner of Salvatore’s/Papa Luigi’s II in downtown South Milwaukee, and he was calling with good news.

His message: He is planning to formally reopen his facility – closed for nearly a year and a half due to more than $1.6 million in water damage from a burst sprinkler system pipe – in phases starting at the end of this month.

First, it will be for bowling leagues and select banquets – with the bar open during times when the facility is in use. Then will come the kitchen, restaurant, and gym space, although remodeling those parts of the building may take a year or more as Sal continues to allocate money from his restaurant supply business and Cudahy location to South Milwaukee.

So, it will take some time. But I am still very excited that Sal, for the first time, is making this formal, public announcement of his plans to reopen – and for what this means for downtown. It is significant progress, and a definitive answer to the question I know many fans of Papa Luigi’s had: “Will Sal ever rebuild?”

One key part of the rebuilding effort was installation a costly new sprinkler system, and that occurred in recent weeks. Our inspectors signed off on it recently. With this in place, this allowed us to grant him permanent occupancy. (Bowling leagues and small events were being held at Papa Luigi’s based on a temporary occupancy permit since 2014.)

I want to thank our fire and inspection departments for their work in assisting Sal in the formal reopening process. Sal was highly complimentary of their efforts, and as mayor that is great to hear. I want South Milwaukee to be known as “open for business,” and we are.

Look for more information soon on the reopening plan.

Sal is already accepting banquet bookings for groups of 50 or more, with food — cooked fresh, made to order and delivered within 15 minutes — for now being catered in from his Cudahy location. Contact Janet (414-807-4965), Frank (414-839-3988) or their Cudahy restaurant location after 4 p.m. for bookings.

And I’ll keep you posted as his phased reopening continues. In the meantime, please join me in officially welcoming Sal back to South Milwaukee. Really, he never left.

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Filed under Downtown, Local Business, South Milwaukee

Meet The Mayor (And Rep. Rodriguez) This Saturday

The next Meet the Mayor session is this Saturday, May 30, at Nomi, the new coffee house on North Chicago Avenue.

Join me from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and State Rep. Jessie Rodriguez will be stopping by from 11 a.m. to noon.

Bring your questions, comments or concerns, or just drop in, enjoy a great cup of coffee and say hi.

Nomi is at 513 N. Chicago Ave., the site of the former A&W. Stop by and see what Aldo has done with the place. It looks great.

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Filed under Local Business, South Milwaukee

Much Smaller, But More Efficient: Big Changes Coming To Cat In South Milwaukee

Cat is significantly reducing its manufacturing footprint in South Milwaukee — but investing significantly in what remains.

In that regard, this afternoon’s announcement about the retooling and redesign of the South Milwaukee plant — including the consolidation of nearly 260,000 square feet of it, or about half of its current manufacturing space — is not all bad news.

And it certainly could have been much worse.

From the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago …

In South Milwaukee, where the company makes electric rope shovels, hydraulic mining shovels and draglines, Caterpillar plans to redesign and retool the facility, removing the need for more than 260,000 square feet of production space in its manufacturing footprint.

“We continue to evaluate our operations for efficiency, to lower cost and to improve competitiveness. This decision allows us to more competitively position the products produced on these campuses, and it provides employees in these facilities clarity around our long-term plans for maintaining production,” said Ed Rapp, Caterpillar group president with responsibility for resource industries.

I am told the buildings Cat will vacate (by not renewing leases) are primarily located in the inner portion of the campus, with those along Rawson Avenue getting the increased (likely multi-million dollar) investment. The technical center and offices are not affected.

The announcement Monday will not affect current employment, which is obviously much less than it used to be. South Milwaukee has more than 700 employees.

I spoke with a local Caterpillar official this afternoon about the decision, and he positioned it as a significant investment in the facility to make it more competitive.

“The ultimate goal in this is to make South Milwaukee a world-class provider,” he said. “As you get more globally competitive, that is good for the employees, our customers, and the city.”

I agree. While it would be great to see the local plant humming along at full capacity in its current footprint, that seemed more and more unlikely with each passing day. Instead, we are getting a smaller, more efficient plant better positioned for the long term, in a changing mining industry that might be headed for an upswing.

Indeed, there are plenty worse alternatives.

Check out coverage from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel,

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Filed under Caterpillar, Local Business, South Milwaukee