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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, Sept. 19, 2014

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Milwaukee Blacksmith is a family affair.
Milwaukee Blacksmith is a family affair.

Milwaukee Blacksmith selected as finalist for Martha Stewart awards

Milwaukee Blacksmith is a finalist for The 2014 Martha Stewart American Made Awards. The annual competition invites makers, small-business owners and creative entrepreneurs to compete for cash and prizes.

There will be 10 winners – nine chosen by a panel of judges and one by the audience.

Winners will receive a trip for two to New York City to attend the American Made event; a spot in the American Made Market; $10,000 to grow their business; a video produced by Stewart’s in-house team; and the opportunity to be featured in Martha Stewart Living magazine and on SiriusXM radio.

Milwaukee Blacksmith "uses old school techniques and modern tooling to create everything from a coat hook to a driveway gate."

Kent Knapp serves as the lead blacksmith and his wife, Shannon, handles the business, marketing and promotion. Their three sons work in the shop as apprentices and their daughter provides prep and design for the company. (The couple also have a 2-year-old daughter and a baby on the way.)

"Our family goal is to create custom heirlooms for our clients to enjoy and know will get passed on for generations," says Knapp. "Our deep respect for the history of blacksmithing in Milwaukee and the craft itself makes our work the definition of a 'labor of love.' We honor that tradition by offering classes to spark the interest in future blacksmiths and pass down the knowledge of thousands of years."

To vote for Milwaukee Blacksmith, go here. Voting ends on Oct. 14, 2014. People can vote up to six times a day.

Dan Fitzgibbons extensively remodeled The Curve - formerly O'Brady's - before opening it last year.
Dan Fitzgibbons extensively remodeled The Curve - formerly O'Brady's - before opening it last year.

The Curve Bar to close

When Dan Fitzgibbons opened The Curve Bar last year, he knew the building, 1127 N. Water St., would be redeveloped someday. He hoped to have a few years in the space, but found out last week that his lease would be terminated at the end of September.

Today, he learned that he could remain in the space until mid-October. You could say it was an unexpected turn for The Curve.

"It is what it is. They gave me the dice cup, I rolled, I lost," says Fitzgibbons, who formerly owned Fitzgibbons Pub at 1127 N. Water St.

An apartment building called The Rhythm will replace The Curve.

Fitzgibbons isn’t sure what the future holds for him, but he hopes it includes bar ownership.

"I’d love to find another space around here," he says. "I lived on the East Side my entire life."

The Curve will host a farewell party at the end of the month or in early October.

District 14 opens at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 13.
District 14 opens at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 13.
The first four.
The first four.
District 14 is a small operation that brews 93-gallon batches of beer.
District 14 is a small operation that brews 93-gallon batches of beer.
Stools and floorboards.
Stools and floorboards.

District 14 Brewery & Pub swings open its doors

We barged in on Matt McCulloch today with only three hours before the soft opening of his new pub and brewery, District 14, at 2273 S. Howell Ave. in the former Custom Designed Lighting space.

Although McCulloch was still finishing up the flooring, he was kind enough to take a break for a few minutes to tell us more about his venture.

District 14, located next door to Cafe Lulu, will have a soft opening tonight, starting at 7 p.m. For now, all sales are cash-only.

McCulloch will brew all of the beer at District 14. He will open tonight with a brown ale, dark chocolate ale, American pale and Kolsch. Eventually, he will have 10 different beers on tap which will be available in pints and growlers.

District 14 beer might be available at Lulu, but for the most part, will be sold exclusively from the bar.

"I have a small system," he says.

District 14 will be open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until the grand opening that will take place in October. (The exact date is TBA.) It will then be open every night of the week.

McCulloch, who is originally from Kenosha and now lives in Muskego, has been brewing for a decade, but says he got serious about it three years ago. Prior to the brewery, McCulloch had a small recording business and worked as a freelance wedding photographer.

District 14 is cozy and warm with an acacia hardwood floor and a large basswood bar. McCulloch did all of the woodwork himself – with help from his friend, Gary. It has taken about a year and a half to go from concept to opening day.

"I’ve been working on it for so long that I’m anxious to get it open now," he says. "I’m pretty proud."

Hello, old friend.
Hello, old friend.

What do Johnson's Park, Farrell's Ice Cream and Showbiz Pizza have in common?

Earlier this week, I was tooling around the Northwest Side to interview a woman for an article, and I drove by a massive, weather-beaten dinosaur sculpture. I took a photo of it, put it on social media, and many people identified it correctly as the only remaining sign of what was once the thriving Johnson’s Park that featured a mini golf course, go-karts, batting cages, food stand and an arcade.

There’s a fence surrounding the property, which is now just patches of weeds and piles of rubble. I stared at it for a long time until I could muster memories of what it once looked like.

Eventually, I could remember other details from the mini golf course like the hole featuring a large bird bent over with his beak buried in the AstroTurf and the tiny pencils attached to chains on the red, wooden stands next to the holes to provide a surface for mini golfers to keep score.

I also remembered that I had a birthday party at Johnson's Park in the early '80s during which I and my sister and a few friends played mini golf, zipped around on the go-karts and ate a cake that my mother brought in on a picnic table.

Later, I remembered a few more now-defunct places where I had birthday parties. So I made a list. Not with a small golf pencil, but on my iPhone.

Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour – There was a Farrell’s in Northridge and Southridge malls, but as a child growing up on the East Side, we always went to the Northridge location. I celebrated my fourth birthday at Farrell's, but was slightly traumatized by this event. I was a very shy kid and Farrell’s was known for banging a massive drum and making a big noisy deal around the birthday child and I told my father before the party that I did not want this to happen. However, the next thing I knew, a staff member was lifting me out of my seat (imagine that happening now?!) and, proclaiming it was my birthday, got the entire restaurant to sing to me. I was mortified, started crying and then felt embarrassed for crying during …