Category Archives: Local Business

AMF South Park Closes

AMF South Park smallUpdate: We apparently were not alone. An AMF center in Michigan also closed abruptly on Sunday

I don’t have many details, but I’ve confirmed with the company that AMF South Park Lanes closed permanently on Sunday.

This was the sign on the door of the 40-lane bowling center Sunday evening.

This is disappointing, albeit not entirely surprising given the recent closure of AMF West Allis, the demise over the years of the former Red Carpet chain and national bowling trends. AMF Waukesha also closed on Sunday, I’m told.

Please keep the families of the employees in your prayers. And I’ll keep you posted on the future of that site — potential sale, etc. — as I learn more.

(This blog post from noted Wisconsin professional bowler Jeff Richgels has more information and perspective.)

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Investing In Downtown South Milwaukee: Thanks, Sorce Martial Arts

DSC1526DSC5067The renovation and expansion of Sorce Martial Arts are nearly complete … and what better time to celebrate than during Evening on the Avenue?

That’s the plan, as Sorce holds a grand re-opening event from 5 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, July 24. From the press release

The event will be an open house for the community to tour the newly expanded facilities, observe adult and child martial arts classes, meet with instructors and staff and take advantage of enrollment specials. In place of the traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony, there will be a belt-cutting ceremony at 5 p.m. The Grand Re-opening also marks the 10th anniversary of Sorce Martial Arts at their current location at 926 Milwaukee Avenue.

“We’re excited about opening the doors of our new facility and sharing everything that martial arts has to offer our community,” says owner and Master Instructor Pete Sorce. While the expansion has taken more than a year to complete, Sorce says that the process has been worth it. With more than 250 adults and children actively attending classes, he adds, “I wanted to create a special space that models the quality of our programs and not be simply a gym or a toddler playground.”

The lower level of the two-story building, which used to house a pharmacy and small offices covered with aging wood-paneling, mismatched carpeting and very little natural daylight, has been completely transformed into a 6,000 square foot contemporary martial arts school. The expanded space now features two full-sized training rooms, new ample viewing areas for families, a private lesson room and offices, a lounge area, and new bathrooms and changing rooms. The look and feel of the space is natural, contemporary and open.

Sorce says that he spent a lot of time researching options for a larger facility to accommodate the school’s growing student base and additional classes. He considered other existing buildings in the area and new construction, but eventually decided to stay at the existing location and expand the space. Pete and Rachel Sorce purchased the building last May, then started the demolition and remodel immediately. Throughout the process, classes in the front half of the building continued as usual.

Thanks to the Sorces for investing in downtown South Milwaukee. There are certainly strong signs of life in our city center — and that is thanks to passionate and committed business owners like them.

Check out more renovation images from Anthony Sell here.

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More Headlines … And Info On South Milwaukee’s “Bug Whisperer”

Check out these headlines of local interest …

NOW has stories on the June 19 Kohl’s Cares Grow Safe & Health Mobile Tour stop at the South Milwaukee Downtown Market and the June 28 Garden Tour.

And here is a profile of Antonio Gustin, a South Milwaukee High School graduate affectionately known as the “Bug Whisperer.” Really cool.

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Rising Above Politics To Get Stuff Done

10415585_10203912583604704_2955800412544252098_nI pledge to live by every word I said in this BizTimes cover story.

More importantly, I’m excited to see South Milwaukee included in the company of Oak Creek, Wauwatosa and Waukesha. It’s an honor to stand next to my colleagues and share goals built around common sense, apolitical approaches to solving problems.

Indeed, South Milwaukee is “open for business” — and I’m committed to work together to move this city forward, no matter your politics.

Here’s to a promising future!


Filed under Community, Local Business, South Milwaukee

Welcoming Drexel Town Square


I was happy to attend today’s formal groundbreaking of Oak Creek’s Drexel Town Square downtown development, and I left impressed.

The project was called “transformational,” and I can’t disagree. What an opportunity for Oak Creek — a chance to create a city center from scratch with a mix of civic, retail, residential and other uses.

Over the next five to seven years, you’ll see a new city hall, library, hotel (Four Points Sheraton), big box retailer (Meijer), apartments and small Main Street merchants rise from the site at Howell and Drexel Avenues. Farmers’ market, splash pad, ice skating, a town square, greenspace … the list goes on. Added to that list Saturday was Water Street Brewery, which announced its plans to build at Drexel Town Square at a ceremony held at the site.

I’m excited about the project. Some might view it as a negative for South Milwaukee — simply more competition for us when it comes to attracting retailers to our city. I take a different view. This is not “us vs. them,” not zero sum. Yes, Drexel Town Square ratchets up competition, but a project like this lifts the entire region, the entire South Shore, South Milwaukee included. We are all better because of projects like Drexel Town Square.

Learn more details on Drexel Town Square here, and check out more coverage from Saturday’s groundbreaking from Fox 6, CBS 58 and the Business Journal.

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Meet The Mayor: First Session Is May 10, And More Dates Announced

Don’t forget to stop by Azteca Restaurant from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 10, for the first Meet the Mayor session.

No topic is off limits, so bring your ideas, concerns, complaints, compliments … or just stop by and say hi. And enjoy some great authentic Mexican food while you’re there.

I’ve also locked down dates through the summer, so mark your calendars. Each session is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

  • Saturday, June 7: Studio One Art Glass, 1333 Milwaukee Ave. Stop by and check out some of the terrific hand-crafted art glass pieces Kim has for sale at his store — and learn more about his custom work.
  • Saturday, July 12: Max A. Sass & Sons Funeral Home, 1314 Manitoba Ave. Mike and company have done a lot with the former St. Mary’s School, and it looks great. See for yourself on July 12.
  • Saturday, August 16: Moxie Fitness, 1234 Milwaukee Ave. Stop in learn more about some of the cool programming Tori and Cindy are offering.

See you soon, and bring a friend!


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Downtown News: Welcome Two New Businesses From Cudahy

Fancy PawsGraveyardSome encouraging news downtown … and we’re just getting started!

First, let’s welcome two new businesses, both moving from downtown Cudahy after more than a decade there. I had a chance to meet both merchants on Saturday.

  • Fancy Paws, a dog grooming business, is already open on the corner of 12th and Milwaukee Avenue. Owner Donna Mae Straseski offers grooming for all breeds, large and small, and supplies. Above, she is holding Bailey, fresh from a bath.
  • Graveyard Records & Move Maniacs, which bills itself as the “Midwest’s largest horror collectibles store,” is also moving to downtown South Milwaukee, and is expected to open in late May, early June. When you talk about unique destination retail, this is it. Really cool stuff that I guarantee you can’t get at Walmart, Kohl’s, Target or Southridge Mall. Owner Dave Curtis is pictured above outside the store at 1013 Milwaukee Ave., formerly home to Kelvin Schroeder Jewelers.

Please join me in welcoming these two new stores to South Milwaukee!

And two more notes …

South Milwaukee Carpet, located in the former Garden Theater building, is closing after more than 30 years in business. Bonnee and Gary are holding their retirement sale now, and I wish them well. Also, Tai Ping Chinese Restaurant has closed, but will reopen under new ownership, according to a sign at the restaurant.


Filed under Development, Local Business, South Milwaukee