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Jimmy Butler holds up his diploma from Marquette University.
Jimmy Butler holds up his diploma from Marquette University. (Photo: Marquette University )

"I love Milwaukee," says Jimmy Butler

I’ve never met Jimmy Butler, but I'm pretty sure I love him. Love the way he plays and – of course – love that he’s a Marquette guy. I’d also love to see him, someday, somehow, in a Bucks uniform. It’s NBA Draft night, so... maybe a trade? A fan can dream, right?  

I also, as you may know, really like Bill Simmons’ stuff. His podcasts are great, and I’m digging The Ringer and his new HBO show "Any Given Wednesday." I’ve never met Simmons, either, but the guy also seems to love Milwaukee – or at least appreciate our character, sports fandom and what I also like to call our lack of pretense. He’s a Boston guy, after all. His hometown is another sports crazed city that suffers through snow and cold to seriously celebrate summer.

Anyway, check out this recent Simmons’ podcast with Jimmy Butler. 

It was recorded before the Bulls traded Derrick Rose, so some of the talk about his team may seem dated. But more importantly and germane to us here in Milwaukee, it includes several Marquette and Milwaukee mentions. Butler says several times, "I love Milwaukee," and he cites his years at and degree from Marquette University, as well as mentioning that the BMO Harris Bradley Center is his favorite place to play. Simmons also says nice things about Milwaukee, our sports fandom and NBA players from Marquette.

Milwaukee and Marquette coming together on one podcast. I love it. You will, too. Especially if you’re a hoops fan, as Butler’s one of the best.

And finally, congrats to Jimmy Butler for making the U.S. Olympic team. Let's get gold this summer in Rio.   

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Grown was opened in Miami by former Bucks player Ray Allen.
Grown was opened in Miami by former Bucks player Ray Allen. (Photo: Grown Facebook)

Dear Ray Allen, please open your next restaurant in Milwaukee

Former Milwaukee Bucks (Heat and Celtics, too) guard Ray Allen and his wife have opened one of the country’s first all-organic "fast food" restaurants – complete with a drive-thru – in Miami. Called Grown, it’s getting rave reviews on Facebook, and, from the photos I’ve seen, I want to eat there right now.

Allen, if you didn’t know, is still one of the most beloved Bucks of all time. His smooth jumper, great work ethic and commitment to Milwaukee are all still talked about and missed today. 

Regarding this new venture, Allen told the Miami Herald, "People want to be healthier, eat cleaner and feel better about what they're putting in their bodies." Indeed.

So here’s my idea, Ray: expand to Milwaukee. Now. 

What better city for you and wife Shannon to expand to? Partner with Growing Power, be a part of one of the fastest-growing food scenes in the country and get back to your professional hoops roots.

Let’s do this, Ray. Give us a Grown in Milwaukee.

This space at Broadway and Mason needs a new restaurant.
This space at Broadway and Mason needs a new restaurant.

Four vacant spaces in Downtown that need to be filled now

Downtown Milwaukee is on a roll. 

More than 2,200 housing units are under construction or completed since the start of 2016, and today nearly 26,000 people live in Downtown – more than Shorewood and Whitefish Bay combined.  The current office space vacancy rate in Downtown is only 17 percent, compared to 21 percent in 2012. And, here’s the big stat: since 2005 more than $3 billion has been invested in Downtown projects.  On a roll, indeed.

Yet, there are still opportunities and eye sores.  For me, these four spaces have been vacant for too long.  I see them all nearly every day.  It bugs me.  So,  let’s fill them, or at least all chime in and help the owners or leasing agents find the right new tenant. 

The old Blackthorn space
750 N. Jefferson St.

This is a great corner, just across the street The Pfister Hotel. Blackthorn closed in 2013, and while many restaurateurs have looked at the space, it's still sitting vacant.

747 N. Broadway

It’s been almost 10 years since Moceans closed, and sadly the space below the well-disguised parking structure still sits vacant at 747 N. Broadway

250 E. Wisconsin Ave.

Does anyone remember Le Peep?  Old school. The breakfast only place on East Wisconsin Avenue closed in 2004.  This prime East Town spot needs a tenant, badly.

The North east corner of Water and Wisconsin

The Associated Bank branch at the corner of Water Street and Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee closed Aug. 21, 2014.  It's perfect for a CVS or Walgreen's.  Either would be a welcome addition to East Town. 

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"Best Bars in America?" Milwaukee might take issue with this.
"Best Bars in America?" Milwaukee might take issue with this.

Milwaukee bars left off new Esquire "Best Bars in America" list

In 2012, Esquire named Milwaukee "Bar City of the Year."  

In 2013, it rated Bryant's the best bar in the entire country.

But in the last few years, Milwaukee hasn’t made the list, and that odd fact won't change in 2016 according to this year's 10th anniversary edition, recently published in print.

The "Best Bars in America" feature has been around since 2006, and, of course, a lot has changed on the drinking scene here and across America. The section is curated by David Wondrich, and this year he compiles a list from his "cross-country investigations, hangovers and aspirin."  

Who knows, maybe Wondrich thinks Milwaukee just got too much love in ‘12 and ‘13. Yet it does seem odd that we haven’t appeared on the list in recent years. Esquire even did a Hall of Fame this year, and there's no Milwaukee representation on that list, either. The Violet Hour in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood, though, made it.  

Oh well; Milwaukee bars, we still love you. This year's list, as I mentioned, isn’t online yet, but check out last year’s here