Gib’s Indulges Dinner Party Desires Without the Cleanup

Craft cocktail lounge with in-home feel opens as companion to Grampa’s Pizzeria


The upstairs bar at Gib’s, features stools and is adjacent to two parlor-type seating areas.

Walk past the two-story frame house at 1380 Williamson Street and one might think they missed an invite to a house party, but you haven’t, because everyone is invited. Tonight (April 18) is the grand opening of Gib’s Bar, a companion cocktail lounge to Grampa’s Pizzeria next door.

Cast aside your visions of sweaty college kids and gallons of Busch Light, and instead imagine a typical home in the Marquette neighborhood with several of your friends before a dinner party; relaxing on carefully considered furniture on top of wood floors and trim that home buyers dream about.

Thursday night Gib’s, a shared nickname for Owner Gilbert Altschul and his late grandfather, held a soft opening and approximately 100 people over four hours, sampled both the atmosphere and the drink selections, which will be heavy on intricately styled craft cocktails. Snap assessment: Get to Gib’s before it gets really popular because it will, quick.

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Writing A New Narrative for Tony Robinson

A life celebrated, a call for new thinking and actions in our everyday lives


Mourners filled Madison East High School’s Milton McPike Field House to honor Tony “Terrell” Robinson on March 14, 2015.

Approximately 1,000 people gathered Saturday (March 14) in the Milton McPike Fieldhouse at Madison East High School to pay respects, remember and celebrate the life of Tony “Terrell” Robinson, Jr. Several hundred more watched the service from the school’s gym via closed-circuit television.

In a service filled with prayers from clergy, gospel music flourishes accompanying some speakers and a soulful rendition of Mariah Carey’s “One Sweet Day”; most who spoke echoed Tony Robinson’s own words:

“You ever have the feeling your’e going to live forever? I mean like your’e never going to die? I’m going to be great, I don’t know how I know but I do. Just watch. I’m going to change the world.”

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MNA Pres Suggests Supporting South Side Public Market

The near Eastside of Madison has it pretty good when it comes to food and resources: the Willy Street Co-op, copious amounts of restaurants, multi-faceted transportation options. The choices are so good that it has spurred Marquette Neighborhood Association President Michael Jacob to float the idea of MNA officially supporting a south side location for the proposed Public Market.

Recently, the City of Madison Local Food Committee recommended a site at the corner of East Washington Avenue and First Street, saying the location had the best combination of population density, high traffic volume and proximity to the now rapidly developing Capitol East Corridor.

But some in Madison feel that the location doesn’t address the relative food deserts that exist on the north and south sides, two locations that were also considered by the committee. This sentiment led Jacob to propose, in an email to the neighborhood listserv, throwing MNA support behind the Park Street location.

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MNA Stands Behind Red Caboose

Neighborhood association board votes statement of support for license appeal

MNA voted to affirm Red Caboose's importance to the community as the center appeals its license revocation.

MNA voted to affirm Red Caboose’s importance to the community as the center appeals its license revocation.

The Marquette Neighborhood Association Board has voted to issue a statement of support for Red Caboose Day Care Center which is appealing last week’s revocation of its license to operate by the State of Wisconsin. The statement, introduced at last night’s meeting (July 24) by Board member Lynn Lee, is intended to affirm the institutional importance of the child care center in the neighborhood but not pass judgement on specific matters raised by the Department of Children and Families.

“The Marquette Neighborhood Association would like to affirm the special place that Red Caboose Daycare has in our neighborhood and for many in the city of Madison,” the statement begins.

Lee, who serves on the center’s board and his daughter attends the center’s after school program, felt the statement was needed because of the concern among parents over the future of the facility in light of the sudden revocation which he felt was a severe reaction.

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Burrito Drive and Players Robberies ‘Likely Related’

Police say chemical irritant was used during recent incidents

Players Sport Bar (left) and Burrito Drive were robbed recently through the same combination of guns and a chemical irritant sprayed on the victims.

Players Sport Bar (left) and Burrito Drive were robbed recently through the same combination of guns and a chemical irritant sprayed on the victims.

Madison Police are saying they believe that two armed robberies in the last three days on the Near East Side are related. Late Sunday night (May 4) at 10:50 p.m. two men wearing masks and carrying handguns stole cash from Burrito Drive, a restaurant near the corner of Brearly and Williamson Streets.

Last night (May 6) at 12:40 a.m. two men (one was armed with a handgun) with a similar general description entered Players Sport Bar & Grill on Winnebago east of Schenk’s Corners, ordered all employees and patrons to floor and stole an undisclosed amount of money. The strongest tie between the two robberies aside from the number of assailants and weapons was the use of a chemical irritant which was sprayed on victims during the incident.

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Help Blake Beat Burkitt’s Leukemia This Sunday

Fundraiser for a boy who beat leukemia but needs help beating bills

1899955_272627359567181_877352916_nI first met 4-year old Blake Rickert at a birthday dinner for his mother about a year ago and I was impressed with his undying exuberance even though he was the only child amongst ten other adults.

I would see this precocious young man at other friend gatherings from then on, playing with toys that boys often find interesting like trucks and large construction equipment. This fellow has more texture than that as I’m told he also likes gardening, shoveling, and of course, superheros. Just about every superhero needs a sidekick. With the evil foes Blake has been fighting so far in 2014, he is looking for his Robin (Dick Grayson for purists).

It was earlier this year that Blake was diagnosed with Burkitt’s Leukemia, a rare form of cancer that is aggressive (growing in size every 14 hours) but also highly treatable. Since January he has been undergoing an aggressive treatment protocol at the American Family Childrens Hospital with very encouraging results. Recently Blake’s mother Jill announced that a bone marrow biopsy found no leukemic cells and all the tumors are gone.

I guess he has earned a newly bestowed moniker: Super Blake

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Central Park Sessions Concert Series Approved

Parks Commission gives go ahead for three concert dates in July and August

Central Park took shape over the summer and fall and may host neighborhood festivals again.

Central Park during initial construction last summer.

It is not the first time music events have been held in Central Park, La Fete de Marquette was held there in the years when it was first designated as a park, but newly announced summer concerts will mark a milestone. It will be the first organized music events since construction began to convert the space into the vision long held by the city and boosters.

That vision will continue to evolve, but since ground was broken last summer an artful restroom facility has been completed and large amounts of dirt has been moved to create small undulating mounds that are wrapped paved paths and punctuated by benches that are so new they are still wrapped in plastic.

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Ella’s Carousel Preparing to Twirl

Landmark restaurant readies its showcase attraction for 2014 season

First tangible sign of spring? Ella's 1927 Parker Carousel is being prepared for the season.

First tangible sign of spring? Ella’s 1927 Parker Carousel is being prepared for the season.

There are many signs of spring: ground hog predictions, re-discovered yard implements from six months ago, as well as sand and grime-infused mounds of recalcitrant snow that defy solar. One additional sign noticed this week is that the process has begun to rouse the Ella’s Deli and Ice Cream Parlor carousel from hibernation.

Ella’s Deli has been a wonderland for children since they opened their East Washington Avenue location in 1976. The fanciful mechanical “animations” as they are termed on the restaurant’s website, are perfect distractions when dining with young children.

Many of these creations as well as the theme of the restaurant was inspired by a visit owners Ken and Judy Balkin made to the Circus World Museum in Baraboo. Ken, along with other employees and local artists, would add to the collection over the years which is like a kaleidoscope, ever changing each time one enters the restaurant.

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Commercial Development on Willy May Dominate MNA Board Meeting

Developments at each end of street highlight contrasting neighborhood priorities

1380 Williamson Street is currently vacant, but 16 Bar Spoons wants to turn the residence into a craft cocktail lounge

1380 Williamson Street is currently vacant, but 16 Bar Spoons wants to turn the residence into a craft cocktail lounge

While every Marquette Neighborhood Association Board meeting is important, tonight’s (March 20) meeting may further illuminate the difference in preferences for development on Williamson Street. With the neighborhood already at loggerheads over too much residential development at 722 and now 706 Williamson; a proposal to convert an existing residence into a craft cocktail lounge did not earn MNA’s  Preservation & Development Committee recommendation at Wednesday’s meeting.

Josh Swentzel (Star Liquor, Grampa’s Pizzeria, Tip Top Tavern), Hastings Cameron (Forequarter, Underground Food Collective) and Gilbert Altschul (Grampa’s Pizzeria, Mickey’s Tavern) have formed 16 Bar Spoons, LLC. to lease the property at 1380 Williamson which is currently owed by Ben Altschul (Gilbert’s brother) and which Swentzel says is currently vacant. The yet to be named lounge divided the committee since the location would turn a two-unit residence into a commercial establishment.

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Buzzing The National Mall

NationalMallWhile flying as a passenger today (February 23), I shot video of our takeoff on Rwy 01 at Washington National Airport from brake release to abeam Georgetown. Washington D.C. was designed by Pierre L’Enfant to create a “Federal City” and appear imposing to enemies.

In this century, the layout of the government quarter is stunning in its beauty. The National Mall, which was originally designed as a grand boulevard, is imbued with an air of power and grace. This  view I often see is hard to share since pilot ethics/rules prevent filming while “working”.

Its nice finally to be able to have been in a position where seat location, sun angle and time of day all aligned for me to share a bit of what I see often, making DCA one of my favorite airports to fly in/out.