Grampa’s Hopes Eager Pizza Patrons Will Fund Elegant Waiting Room Next Door

$50K kickstarter sought to fund rehabilitation and conversion of 1380 Williamson

1380 Williamson Street is slowly evolving into Gib's, a swanky waiting area for the space-challenged Grampa's Pizzeria next door.

1380 Williamson Street is slowly evolving into Gib’s, a swanky waiting area for the space-challenged Grampa’s Pizzeria next door.

Not even a year after Grampa’s Pizzeria opened they had a problem, a very good problem. Most nights, especially the weekends, there was nary a table to be had. The approximately 45 seat restaurant serves a staple of four to five well thought-out pizza offerings along with inventive sides that change with the seasons or the creative whims of Co-Owner and Executive Chef Gilbert Altschul.

The small location also has its cozy charm but very little space for patrons who are waiting to be seated. Earlier this year Altschul partnered with notable cocktail creator Hastings Cameron and Grampa’s bar manager Josh Swentzel to open Imaginary Bar next door at 1380 Williamson Street to provide a loungey “waiting room” experience for diners.

As the project moved forward the restoration work became quite extensive and pricey causing Altschul to buyout Swentzel and Cameron. The two-story bar has been renamed Gib’s Bar but will retain much of the original intent, however Altschul is energized by the new project including culinary inspiration from such things as salmon in a cone.

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Garden Fresh Dining

‘Locally grown ingredients’ for some Willy eateries mean the backyard

The extensive garden in the backyard of Grampa's Pizzeria which supplies fresh ingredients for their menu.

The extensive garden in the backyard of Grampa’s Pizzeria which supplies fresh ingredients for their menu.

“Garden Fresh”, the bastardized phrase that appears on just about every menu from fast food joints to high-end restaurants. In recent years there has been a push by local groups such as Dane Buy Local and REAP Food Group and restaurants to use locally grown or produced ingredients like fruits, vegetables and meats.

Some Willy Street restauranteurs are even cutting out that step too by growing their ingredients in their own backyards. Many of the commercial buildings on the street don’t have the space to support gardens, but some places do make it work.

On a small parcel of walkway between the Third Lake Ridge shopping center building and it’s credit union drive-thru is a side door to Bahn Thai where several large pots with green vegetables are growing including a rather precocious basil plant.

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Blake Rickert Fundraiser Sets Blueprint for Low-resource Organizers

Donations triple expectations during auction event

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Donation jars at the ready for the Help Blake Beat Burkitt's Fundraiser. Bartenders also donated their wages and tips. Photo by: Brett Williams
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Mac and Cheese was loved by all, donated by Noodles & Company. Photo by: Brett Williams
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Help Blake Beat Burkitt's T-shirts were very popular. Photo by: Brett Williams
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Even the Atomic Koi worked to provide a welcoming atmosphere. Photo by: Brett Williams
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The calm before the silent auction storm. Photo by: Brett Williams
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Organizers fly about preparing for the Help Blake Beat Burkitt's Fundraiser. Photo by: Brett Williams
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Blake's aunt Stacy Laufenberg Schmidt painted faces for the cause. She was quite busy. Photo by: Brett Williams
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Blake (right) with his father Kevin and cousin (left). Photo by: Brett Williams
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Photo by: Brett Williams
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Blake Rickert who is also known as "SuperBlake" for the way he has endured his treatment by smiling through it all. Photo by: Brett Williams
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Photo by: Brett Williams
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Blake and father Kevin (left). Photo by: Brett Williams
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A WKOW-Madison reporter works on a report about the Help Blake Beat Burkitt's Fundraiser. Photo by: Brett Williams
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Balloon guy was only second in popularity to Blake. Photo by: Brett Williams
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Lead organizer Kristina Miller won praise for her work in planning the event. Photo by: Brett Williams
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Reflections on a great effort by the organizers Caitlin Waldhart and Kent Miller. Photo by: Brett Williams
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Blake Rickert with his grandfather (right) and an unidentified family member. Photo by: Brett Williams
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Atomic Koi organizer Hawk Sullivan likened the pace strength of the crowed to New Years Eve. Photo by: Brett Williams
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Organizer Kent Miller models a Help Blake Beat Burkitt's Fundraiser t-shirt. Photo by: Brett Williams
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Photo by: Brett Williams
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Organizers Kris Prusynski (left) and Brett Williams (right) with an attendee. Photo courtesy: Brett Williams
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Photo by: Brett Williams
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Kevin Rickert. Photo by: Brett Williams
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Caitlin Waldhart prepares a UW Tailgate Experience auction package for display.
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Help Blake Beat Burkitt's Fundraiser auction item.
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Help Blake Beat Burkitt's Fundraiser auction item.
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Help Blake Beat Burkitt's Fundraiser auction item.
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The fully stocked beer cooler bid sheet was well-trafficked.
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Help Blake Beat Burkitt's Fundraiser auction item.
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Help Blake Beat Burkitt's Fundraiser auction item.
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The Atomic Koi party on through the afternoon.
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Gold with Bob Lindemeier fetched $300
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These custom cupcakes from Cupcakes-a-go-go were go-go-going and gone within an hour.
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Help Blake Beat Burkitt's Fundraiser auction item.
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Help Blake Beat Burkitt's Fundraiser auction item.
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A young attendee is entranced by the Atomic Koi.
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Blake's mom Jill Rickert.
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Help Blake Beat Burkitt's Fundraiser auction item.
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Stacy Laufenberg Schmidt pressed her daughter into service at the t-shirt, bracelet and tattoo table.
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Brett Williams and Kevin Rickert.
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Some bidders phoned a friend.
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Blake Rickert.
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Help Blake Beat Burkitt's Fundraiser auction item.
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Patrick Rogne was tireless as a greeter at the entrance, doling out door prizes and managed to distribute two difficult items: Two patio umbrellas.
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Help Blake Beat Burkitt's Fundraiser auction item.
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Gallery photos by Brett Williams and Willy Street Blog 

 

Nearly three months ago, when organizers started planning the Help Blake Beat Burkitt’s fundraiser, they never thought they would nearly triple their even most ambitious monetary goal. But thats what happened when approximately 200 people packed the Atomic Koi in Fitchburg for four hours Sunday (April 27) and raised through a silent auction, raffle and donations $13,591 to help offset the cost of 4-year old Blake Rickert’s successful treatment of Burkitt’s Leukemia.

The star of the event was Blake himself who got permission to leave the hospital for a few hours to attend the fundraiser. Despite fighting an illness all week, he was all smiles as he connected with friends and family and was fascinated, as were all the kids in attendance, by the “Balloon Guy”, who fashioned balloon figurines. Other kid favorites included face painting by Blake’s Aunt Stacy Laufenberg Schmidt and temporary tattoos of the “SuperBlake” logo.

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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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Willy Street Blog @ “2”

Neighborhood blog to continue hyper-focus

What do you give the neighborhood that has everything? Well certainly not another person with an opinion. When you start a blog, its like any good essay, pick a few central themes and nurture them with attribution and reasoned analysis. But it is no small challenge to write about by far the most engaged, opinionated, funky, and cool neighborhood in the nation.

Willy Street Blog was born in March 2012, in the midst of the recall drive, but soon turned away from state politics as plenty of great voices were already speaking to the issue. In a city that features stupendous local reporting from numerous outlets, why should anyone bother to read some random blog?

The key is to really not care.

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Grampa’s Pizzeria Extends Fig Leaf to Moms and Kids

New Willy Street business gives free pizza to atone for breastfeeding flap

GrampasInterior

The intimate table setting in Grampa’s main dining area was too close for one patron who complained about a breastfeeding diner.

Last week at Grampa’s Pizzeria, Managing Partner Marissa Johnson offered a breastfeeding patron a more private area to nurse after another patron had complained. According to an account published on Madison.com the patron did not accept the offer and left soon after.

A small social media firestorm soon appeared on Facebook as some area mothers threatened to boycott the establishment. According to a state law passed in 2009 breastfeeding in public is a protected act and while Ms. Johnson may not have technically run afoul of the law in offering the woman an alternate location; the incident has inflamed passions on the Near East Side.  Continue reading

Opening Set for Grampa’s

Paint and then patrons only left for new late-night pizza establishment

With the opening of Grampa’s Pizzeria only weeks away Owner and Chef Gilbert Altschul is focusing on the final details. The building, which was formerly Grandpa’s Gun Shop, has undergone quite the transformation in the past few months. Fresh drywall adorns every flat surface, newly stained cedar siding gives the building fresh pop, and an arty sculpture-like metal sign hangs above the front window which features a large flower box overflowing with fresh greenery.

The day I visited for an update, the din of construction was emanating from the restaurant, and I found Gilbert and Bar Manager Josh Swentzel in the backyard conducting an interview with a potential waitress.  Continue reading

MCBW: Potato Maibock and The Mickey Brat

Event pairs Mickey’s secret brats and new O’so brew on the cusp of national fame

Source: Osobrewing.com

Source: Osobrewing.com

Madison Craft Beer Week is in full swing and while there are dozens of events around the city, the O’so Tasting and Brat cook out with Catfish Stephenson event from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m at Mickey’s Tavern Wednesday night (May 8) is a worthy mid-week stop.

I wrote last year about the event after encountering Underground Meat’s sample table featuring Goat Salami; an animal I had never tried before but ended up buying a package of the charcuterie that is made right here in the neighborhood.

While the beer was quite good, what truly left an impression last year was the most savory brats I have ever tasted. They were so good I spent the next year trying to find out who made them. Each subsequent visit to Mickey’s included an interrogation of a server or bartender about the mysterious cook and the magical recipe that produced brats that I’m sure Walter White would describe as “pharmaceutical grade”.  Continue reading

You Missed A Lot at the MNA Board Meeting

Association active in every corner of life in the Marquette Neighborhood

The MNA Board meets at the Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center on Thursday April 18, 2013. (L to R: Ralph Kuehn, President Michael Jacob, Anne Walker, Nicole Craig, Bill Scanlon, Treasurer Cheryl Solaris and Joan Frost (foreground). Not pictured but present: Carl Durocher, Tom Boos, Vice-President Chris Lukas and Secretary Mike Soref.

The MNA Board meets at the Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center on Thursday April 18, 2013. (L to R: Ralph Kuehn, President Michael Jacob, Anne Walker, Nicole Craig, Bill Scanlon, Treasurer Cheryl Solaris and Joan Frost (foreground). Not pictured but present: Carl Durocher, Tom Boos, Vice-President Chris Lukas and Secretary Mike Soref.

It was a pretty busy night at the Marquette Neighborhood Association Board Meeting Thursday April 18. While decidedly the big news was the MNA letter to the Alcohol Licensing Review Committee regarding Plan B nightclub; quite a bit of ground was covered on many neighborhood initiatives including the naming of a new director of the Orton Park Festival.

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Grampa’s Pizzeria is Open Late

Grandson to add panache, build brand around bar-born family recipe

Gilbert Altschul is opening Grampa’s Pizzeria in the former space of Larry Gleasman’s Grampa’s Gun Shop.

One of Willy Street’s longtime artisans has quietly retired as Larry Gleasman recently closed his gunsmithing business, Grampa’s Gun Shop at 1374 Williamson Street, after 30 years. Gilbert Altschul, who grew up just a few blocks away, plans to re-invigorate the location and open Grampa’s Pizzeria honoring his own grandfather, using the elder’s pizza recipe that delighted his family for years.

Gilbert’s late grandfather, William VandeHey, first created his hand-rolled pizzas while serving in the Air Force in the 1950s and ‘60s. During that time, he opened a bar and eventually sold the pies out of his establishment for a few dollars apiece. The recipe would live on at family events, and Gilbert learned how to prepare the pizza from his dad, Dan Altschul, who had learned it from William.  Continue reading