Category Archives: Local Business

Celebrating South Milwaukee, With T-Shirts

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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

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

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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