Category Archives: Local Business

What’s Showing This Summer: Outdoor Movies (And Dinner)

Dinner and a Movie 2

Update: Here is a list of participating restaurants for the first “Dinner and a Movie”: Azteca, China Chef, Barbiere’s, Muskie’s Gourmet House and MKE City Sippers. Be sure to patronize these local businesses!

Thanks again to Guardian Credit Union for stepping up to sponsor three outdoor movies downtown again this summer.

They’ve announced the movies they’ll be showing … and we’ve added a twist. We’re now calling the event being held on the three Fridays in June, July and August “Dinner and a Movie,” and we’re bringing local restaurants into the fold.

It’s easy: Take advantage of movie-night specials at a number of local eateries prior to the outdoor movies, and then swing by the farmers’ market site on 11th and Madison for the flicks.

This way, you can support a local business and enjoy a great downtown event, too. Sounds like a date night!

Check out the movie schedule in the image and in this flyer.

The early list of participating restaurants includes Azteca, China Chef, Barbiere’s and Nona’s Café. Look for a full list at as the event approaches.

And a special thanks to Heidi Bontempo from Guardian and Joey Bukowski for their continued work on planning this fun event. This could not happen without them.

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Filed under Downtown, Local Business, South Milwaukee

Introducing … The South Milwaukee Food Truck Festival!

Another cool new event for our city … and it’s coming up quickly.

The area’s top food trucks are planning a stop in downtown South Milwaukee.

I’m excited to announce the first-ever South Milwaukee Food Truck Festival, presented by the Milwaukee Food Truck Alliance. The event — planned for noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday, May 3, on 11th and Milwaukee Avenues, site of the farmers’ market — will feature a number of the area’s top trucks and live music throughout the afternoon.

Already committed to attend: Streetza Pizza, Gouda Girls, Eats & Treats, Meat on the Street, Simmer, and Hattie’s, with more to come.

The event will go before the city council for formal approval this Tuesday.

Mark your calendars, save your appetite, and help me spread the word.

This will be a huge hit. Besides great food, these trucks have huge followings and fans from across the area that have yet to discover our fair city. We’re expecting there will good spillover business to our existing downtown stores.

And this is just the start to our downtown summer. From this to the farmers’ market to the return to the outdoor movies to Evening on the Avenue to the Heritage Days Parade — and more — downtown South Milwaukee will be hopping in 2015.

Look for a full list of downtown events coming soon.

One more note: To get a sense of how big these food trucks are and the reach they have, consider the award-winning Streetza Pizza. Owned by South Milwaukee resident Scott Baitinger, it has 12,500 Twitter followers. And that’s just one truck.


Filed under Downtown, Local Business, South Milwaukee

Reminder: Meet With Me, And Supervisor Jursik, On Saturday

Just a quick reminder about this Saturday’s Meet the Mayor event, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at I Can’t Resist Kids’ Resale, 915 Milwaukee Ave.

Milwaukee County Supervisor Patricia Jursik will be joining me as a special gust.

Then, on Saturday, May 30, State Rep. Jessie Rodriguez will be joining me at Nona’s Café, 2206 10th Ave.

Bring your questions, comments or concerns, or just stop by, say hi and check out these terrific local businesses.

Thanks again to Becky and Ida for hosting these events, and to Pat and Jessie for joining me!

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Filed under Local Business, Milwaukee County, South Milwaukee

New Business Updates

Nomi JCs Produce This and That

Lots of new business momentum these days in South Milwaukee …

  • First, Nomi Coffee is now open. For now, it’s coffee and baked goods, but there are plans for fuller breakfast and lunch options. Temporary hours are Monday through Friday 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. and weekends 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Two new businesses are coming to the 1200 block of Milwaukee Avenue downtown. JC’s Produce, expected to open this week, is a convenience store with a focus on fresh produce (and no alcohol). It’s located in the former liquor store building at 1232 Milwaukee Ave. Across the street is This & That, a discount variety store. It will open in a few weeks.
  • Also, Hidden Treasures, a collectibles store, has opened in the 1000 block of Milwaukee Ave.

Let’s welcome all of these new businesses to town!

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Filed under Development, Downtown, Local Business, South Milwaukee

Big Moves For Downtown’s Future (And Economic Development Overall)

It’s been a good couple of weeks for the outlook of downtown South Milwaukee — the entire city, for that matter.

A quick recap …

  • The nine-member Downtown Advisory Committee has begun meeting. They are working on establishing a firm mission, vision and strategy for the committee — and beginning to work on tackling the key issues facing our city center. It’s a formalized voice we’ve lacked in this debate for a long time. Too long.
  • We’re moving ahead on our comprehensive plan and downtown plan updates. At its meeting two weeks ago, the city council formally directed our city engineer to prepare and put out a request for proposals to planning firms. Proposals will be due by April 9, and we’re asking that the plans be substantially complete by the end of the year. What are we looking for? The Plan Commission and the downtown committee jointly met earlier this month to discuss the details of the RFP. It was a great discussion. One key part: We must value creativity in this process, look for firms that can bring us new ideas and fresh approaches to our city and downtown, concepts that we can put into practice for short-, medium and long-term success. I can’t wait to start.
  • Also, we have hired a new economic development coordinator. Robin Grams starts Monday, March 23. He has a passion for economic development and the skills, training and personality to make a real difference. Robin has a master’s degree in public administration (emphasis on urban planning and management) from Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis, where he also worked as a planning intern for the City of Indianapolis. He also studied history and urban and regional studies at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and was a member of its NCAA Division I swim team. I’m confident he’ll do a great job in serving as our point person for business recruitment and retention across the city. He’ll also play a significant role in working with the downtown committee in developing the downtown plan, and he’ll work closely with our Community Development Authority in marketing our tax incremental financing district properties.

All of these efforts — the formation of the downtown committee, development of the plan, and hiring of dedicated economic development support — are key building blocks we need for South Milwaukee’s future.

I’m excited to see this foundational work come alive. It will make a real difference, for the long term, this as we continue to work hard to attract new businesses and other development to our city center every day.

Momentum continues to build. I hope you feel it.

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Filed under Development, Downtown, Local Business, South Milwaukee

South Milwaukee Fish Fries: What’s Your Favorite?

With the first Friday of Lent here, it’s a good time to ask — what’s your favorite local fish fry?

We are regulars at Emerald City Catering, but I know there are plenty more outstanding ones around town.

Post your comments below!


Filed under Local Business, South Milwaukee

Ownership Change Signals Strength Of Grant Park Plaza

It’s been a good run recently for Grant Park Plaza. And that’s good for South Milwaukee.

With the recent opening of Planet Fitness and the soon-to-be open CSL Plasma location, the shopping center will be close to 90% occupied — pretty good when you look at the state of other suburban strip malls.

There was more good news Tuesday night, as the Community Development Authority and City Council approved an ownership change for most of the center, a restructuring that will see a new equity partner come on board and allow for a refinancing of existing debt.

The new equity partner is Great Lakes Capital, an investment firm based in South Bend, Ind., and the new owners of the shopping center — all buildings, including the outlots, minus the Pick ‘n Save — will officially be 2901 South Chicago LLC.

This move will further strengthen and stabilize the ownership of the center, freeing up cash that the owners have pledged to use to resurface/reseal the parking lot, fix winter damage to the lot and improve landscaping in 2015.

These enhancements are in addition to almost $900,000 in improvements the center has seen in the past year, including $750,000 for buildout of the Planet Fitness space. Another $120,000 is being invested in the CSL Plasma buildout. It will open in April.

There is still a 11,800 square-foot vacancy in the main portion of the center — formerly occupied by Wisconsin Health and Fitness — and a space next to Advance Auto Parts in that outlot. But that’s it. And that’s a good thing.

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Filed under Local Business, South Milwaukee