Category Archives: Local Business

Grand Openings: Jen’s Sweet Treats, Ferch’s, New-Look Ace Hardware

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I love grand openings, and there are three in May alone, with more to come.

Mark your calendars for …

  • Sunday, April 24: Get an early look at downtown’s newest business, Jen’s Sweet Treats, with “Sips & Sweets,” a chance to sample some yummy treats ahead of their official grand opening. Bring a toy to donate to their South Shore Santas program. 4-6 p.m. at 907 Milwaukee Ave.
  • Sunday, May 1: Jen’s Sweet Treats officially opens at 9 a.m. with a selection of cupcakes, muffins, cookies, turnovers, brownies and donuts.
  • Friday, May 13: South Milwaukee Ace Hardware, 1009 Marquette Ave. The noon ribbon cutting on Friday is the kickoff for an entire weekend of activities. Friday, it’s a Traeger grilling demo and grill giveaway. Saturday, there is a  South Milwaukee Lions Club cookout from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., an appearance by WTMJ radio’s Jeff Wagner and their Free Ride program from 1 to 3, and a Weber grilling demo and giveaway from 3 to 6. Sunday, it’s Family Day, with free popcorn and demonstrations by the South Milwaukee Fire Department. Free coffee and donuts every morning from 8 to 10., and there are sales and specials each day. More to come soon, as Ben and the Gil family looks to show off the big changes — and big investment — they’ve made to the store.
  • Friday, May 20: Ferch’s Malt Shoppe & Grille officially opens at 4 p.m., as they begin their first full season at Grant Park Beach. They have a lot planned. From rentals (lounge chairs, umbrellas, kayaks and paddle boards) to live music to movies to, of course, terrific burgers, custard and beer, it promises to be a great summer at the beach. Beach volleyball also returns this summer!

The new business momentum is real, and we’re just getting started.



Filed under Downtown, Grant Park, Local Business, South Milwaukee

Good Luck, Rocket Robotics!


I had a chance to meet Rocket Robotics, FIRST Team 3596, last week, and I left feeling so impressed with our next generation of engineers and the work they’re doing — as well as with the community and business partnership it takes to make their work possible.

The robotics team, in its sixth year at South Milwaukee High School, is 15-20 students strong and is led by Brian Niggemann, a Caterpillar engineer who volunteers countless hours of his time to mentor the team and prepare them for their annual competition. He is joined by three other Caterpillar employee volunteers who bring their engineering expertise and guidance to the kids you see pictured above.

Caterpillar is also a significant funder of the program, paying the team’s entry fee and also donating funds and equipment used in building the robots. In addition to Caterpillar, The Rotary Club of Mitchell Field stepped up with significant funding this year, as well as smaller contributions from Vito Clean, Alliance Manufacturing Group, and Styled Aesthetic.

But it really comes down to the kids and the passion they bring to this, which was clearly evident when I visited with them.

I wish them good luck at the FIRST Robotics Regional Competition, scheduled for this Friday and Saturday, March 25-26, at the Milwaukee Panther Arena downtown. Learn more about the competition here. It’s open to the public and free. Stop by and see these students in action, and I’m certain you’ll come away as impressed as I was.

Their robot is wrapped in plastic below. They didn’t want to risk me breaking it 🙂

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Filed under Local Business, Schools, South Milwaukee

Open Thread: What’s Your Favorite South Milwaukee Fish Fry?

Post your comments below!


Filed under Local Business, South Milwaukee

For The Love Of Local Paczki


Fat Tuesday is in just a few days, and there’s a way to celebrate it in South Milwaukee style — with paczki!

Wild Flour Bakery makes and sells all their Polish treats at their South Milwaukee bakery at 1205 Milwaukee Ave. Raspberry, bavarian cream, lemon and prune are available for pickup and purchase from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesday.

Pre-orders are appreciated. Call 414-571-1298 to place your order or learn more.

Learn more about paczki here. And happy Fat Tuesday!

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Filed under Local Business, South Milwaukee

Made In South Milwaukee: Janet Halfmann


The latest in a regular series.

OK, so Janet Halfmann isn’t technically from here, but she’s lived here 25 years, and we’re proud to claim this terrific children’s book author as our own.

She has published dozens of books — including a number in the Brooks family collection — and her newest one (“Grandma is a Slowpoke”) is due out Feb. 15.

From her website

My mom says that I was always curled up reading a book. That’s probably why I majored in English at Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI. At some point, I also fell in love with Spanish, spent a summer in Spain, and graduated with a double major, with plans to teach.

But soon after I married, I saw an ad for a home-study course in children’s writing, enrolled, started writing, and was hooked. Becoming a published children’s author became my dream. Reading books to our kids became #1 on my list of favorite things to do. I had some success as a freelance writer, selling articles to magazines like Ranger Rick and Jack and Jill.

But I wanted to make a living as a writer, which took me on the following path:

Got another degree in journalism and moved to Wichita, Kansas, to be a reporter on a daily newspaper for three years (I loved writing feature stories, but hard news not so much).

Moved to Wisconsin to help start the national magazine, Country Kids–but the circulation didn’t grow fast enough and the job lasted less than two years.

Worked for twelve years creating coloring and activity books (Little Mermaid, Mickey Mouse, Sesame Street, Poky Little Puppy, and scores of others) for Golden Books in Racine, WI–a great job with wonderful coworkers!

In 1997, when Golden Books moved all of its operations to New York City and I lost my job, I returned to my original dream of being a children’s author.

I got my start on my dream by writing books for the Creative Company in Mankato, Minnesota. I visited the company for an informational interview before I decided to strike out on my own. Then when I made my decision, the company gave me the opportunity to write a series of insect books, and a children’s book author was born.

And we’re blessed to have her call South Milwaukee home.

Note: Janet will be at the South Milwaukee Spring Market at South Milwaukee High School Sunday, March 20, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. She’ll also be at South Milwaukee Family Literacy Night


Filed under Local Business, South Milwaukee

Downtown Update: New Restaurant Opens In March

Downtown momentum continues, with our newest restaurant, Grillworks, planning an opening for March.

The Orens have already made significant investments to upgrade to the former Nona’s and Grebe’s building on 10th Avenue, and they plan to open the restaurant and bar in March. They will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as a Friday fish fry, prime rib and a Sunday brunch buffet.

Also, a big thanks to our Street Department for taking away the snowbanks along Milwaukee Avenue on Friday. It’s not something we’ve often done, but I hope we can do it more going forward. I’m happy to get behind efforts like this to help local businesses. (Thanks to Leah from Parkway Floral for the photo.)


Filed under Downtown, Local Business, South Milwaukee

New Owners Secure Bright Future For South Milwaukee Ace Hardware

New Ace owners

An iconic local retailer has new owners, and they have big plans.

South Milwaukee Ace Hardware has been sold to Harry and Chris Gil, owners of Harry’s Ace Hardware & Rental at 7240 S. 76th St. in Franklin. Their son, Ben, will manage their second location.

The Gils are showing their commitment to South Milwaukee by signing a long-term lease for their space at Sunrise Plaza, 1009 10th Ave., and they are planning a significant store remodel later this spring.

Please join me in being among the first to welcome the Gils, and to wish Dave Micale, the previous owner, well.

Dave built a first-class local business that went head-to-head with big box stores and more than held its own thanks to great customer service. Here is a message from Dave …

I would like to thank all of our customers for all the kindness and support that my family and I have received over the past 20 years. I can’t express enough how we enjoyed being a part of the neighborhood. We have met a lot of good people and made many great friends. I will forever be grateful.

The Ace announcement — especially the signing of the long-term lease and the planned improvements — is great news for Sunrise Plaza as a whole, which has new owners focused on improving the center and making it more financially viable.

And what’s good for Sunrise Plaza is good for South Milwaukee, and continued small business growth in our fair city. It’s exciting to see.

Welcome to South Milwaukee, the Gil family!


Filed under Local Business, South Milwaukee