Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Milwaukee Public Market Has Extended Hours

I was headed out of town when this happened, so let me be the last to know and the latest to forward the good news:

The Milwaukee Public Market is now open Mondays, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday had previously been the market's day to close for restocking, but the new management there has figured out how to serve customers on Mondays, and that's great.

(The coffee shop there is open weekdays at 7:00 a.m.)

Additionally, the market is open another hour on Sunday, opening at 8:00 a.m., like Saturday mornings, but now closing at 5:00 p.m.

The Milwaukee Public Market is a vital cog in the downtown revival. It has had growing pains, but the direction there seems all positive.


Jim Bouman said...

This forced attempt--the Public Market--to reproduce something that worked (and still works) in other cities has always struck me as wishful thinking. And there was, I believe, a huge amount of public subsidy. The planners told us it would be modeled on Cleveland's West Side Market.


The West Side Market is a huge, varied combination of outdoor stalls and an indoor maze of white tiled corridors with separate counters, coolers, display cases. Intriguing smells, lots of languages, nobody bitching about illegal aliens who refuse to speak english.

Ethnic butchers offered everything from head cheese to hog maw. I loved the Italian ones, who knew exactly how to age meat to the specifications of Italian cooks. If you bought something, he'd slice a litle sliver of prosciutto and hand it to you on a piece of butcher paper. And you'd be hooked, tell him to give you two more slices. Twenty cents.

There were probably twenty different sausage makers. Live poultry in cages outside; a buyer could order on arrival, do other shopping and pick up the dressed whole bird (feet still on it, the better to carry it) on the way out. There were jobs for the quick-handed who could grab, bleed out, pluck and dress a duck or a chicken in five minutes. When the buyer came back the bird was waiting, its cavity filled with chipped ice.

Czech and Slovak bakers with punchkies, kolachi and a big jar of beet-pickled eggs--I know,it's not bakery, but they always had a big jar of them to sell in onesies and twosies.

Why did it work? It was at W. 25th and Bridge Avenue, 25 blocks from downtown, next to the Cuyahoga River, between the Lorain Avenue bridge and the Detroit/High Level bridge. Four streetcar routes and several more trackless trolley lines converged at the market. We went there for the Fries & Schuele Department Store--a bit like Goldmann's--and a hundred offices of dentists and doctors. All right there. The market was a centerpiece.

There weren't--thank God--any yuppies. The vast majority of West Side Market patrons lived in rented houses and duplexes. The market was someplace we went to get something we couldn't get at the local Krogers or A&P or Fisher Foods.

I haven't seen anything at the Public Market--aside from the middle eastern specialties served fast-food style with plastic forks and styrofoam trays--that isn't availabe in twenty places between my house and the market. That, and the organic produce from EastTroy. and, I'll admit that stuff is good--pricey, but good.

And there are no streetcars, no Rapid Transit (it wasn't for nothing that W. 25th was the first stop on the wester leg of Cleveland's fast rail Rapid Transit system which just celebrated 50 years of operation recently).

And the 3rd Ward is a place I have to drive to, then, find a parking place.

Public Market: chi-chi, yuppie bait, derivative, not really something average people use. It is an amenity designed to please the condo dwellers, not anything for the working class person.

They could open up 24 hours a day and it'll still be an over-hyped second cousin to the grandaddy of all overhyped and over budget white elephants--Miller Park. But, don't get me started on that. OK, you got me started. The Jake is ten times the better ballpark than Miller Park.

James Rowen said...

Well, Jim - - I'd prefer to get there by street car, too. A successful market is element in the downtown revival that someday may make that possible. Tell those legislators out there in your neck of the woods to turn off talk radio and stop blocking the city's rail plans.

The market - - which was modeled on many markets and was meant to recapture some of the old market feel to the now-closed produce markets on Commission Row downtown, does offer free parking in a covered lot, so that situation is not as dire as you suggest.

The market is evolving. Give it a chance.

Jim Bouman said...

It took $10 million to open the place in 2005. They planned to have 25 vendors, presently list only twenty. Two years into the project my estimation is that this is not a going concern.

We need planners who will think through these heavily subsidized yuppie developments and plan for the real world, not the fantasy world of "urban living," hyped by all the condo sellers in the third ward.

They've persuaded an amazing (and fast-dissolving, I think) number of suburbanites to abandon their three-acres-and-a-tract-mansion in Delafield to come downtown and taste the new urbanism.

Some of them are aghast that there are people in their building who actually smoke, and fill the hallways with their carcinogenic vapors. Lots of them want three spots to park their cars. What's up? Urbanism implies walking neighborhoods, not a lot of whining about too few indoor covered parking places for households with more cars than family members.

I'm not willing to give this misbegotten project any more space than the free market allows.

You worked for the Norq. Was this a project you had a hand in?

'fess up.

James Rowen said...

The Norquist administration played a supportive role. It was not a project in which I had any participation.

As I said, I think it is evolving, and will grow as the Third Ward/Downtown revival continues.

I had lunch there today. I am glad to see that it is meeting public demand by adding more table space and meals.

So I'm optimistic about the market.