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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014

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More hats for Bay View.
More hats for Bay View.

Hats off to the new Hen House

John and Kate McLaughlin, owners of The Brass Rooster – a men's hat shop in Bay View – will move to a larger location and open a women’s hat shop called The Hen House next door.

Both businesses will be located at 2250-2252 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. in the former Boulevard Theatre. Sarah Jonas and Camryne Roberts – the owners of Bay View’s Café Lulu – purchased the space earlier this summer. (The Boulevard is in its 29th season and now performs at the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center.)

The grand opening for The Hen House and Brass Rooster is scheduled for November.

Hen House will offer pre-made and custom-made women's hats as well as cleaning and refurbishment of vintage hats. Kate, a master milliner, will also teach hat making and host hat parties in the space.

The Brass Rooster opened in 2011 at 2479 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

"The Brass Rooster will look almost identical to its appearance currently, with the addition of a much larger and needed manufacturing area for the hats we make on location," says John. "The Hen House will be a different decor and shopping experience entirely designed specifically for our core female clientele."

In the future, the McLaughlins will also hit the streets in their mobile hat truck, selling at special events and around town.

"We bought a 1955 Ford delivery van that will be our headwear retail version of a food truck," says John.

Mobile hat truck? Now that's out of the (hat) box thinking.

La Casa de Alberto is open for business.
La Casa de Alberto is open for business.
The chicken mole, olè!
The chicken mole, olè!
The interior is clean and simple.
The interior is clean and simple.

Former Conejito's employees open La Casa de Alberto

La Casa de Alberto opened in the former Lopez Bakery space, 624 W. National Ave.

The owners, Alberto and Laura Gonzalez, worked at Conejito’s for 18 years. Alberto worked in the kitchen and Laura tended bar.

"We are happy to be in the neighborhood," says Laura.

The menu is similar to Conejito's – a basic selection of tacos, enchiladas, tostadas and light or dark meat mole – but also has "fancier" items like fajitas and shrimp diablo.

The prices range from $1.50 for a single taco or enchilada to $10 for the shrimp dish. Most items are $5-7 with the chicken mole seemingly one of the best deals on the menu at $5.50 for white meat and it includes rice and beans.

Mexican beers are $3.50, domestics are $3 and margaritas are $4.50.

We found the food flavorful, the portions gracious and the staff very friendly. For a cheap Mexican dinner, it's definitely worth a visit. 

And unlike Conejito's, there are no paper plates.

La Casa de Alberto is open Mondays and Wednesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sundays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Closed Tuesdays.

Who wants to go in on Alpine Valley?
Who wants to go in on Alpine Valley? (Photo: Stan Johnson Co.)

Greatest Alpine Valley shows of all time

Earlier this week, it was announced that Alpine Valley Music Theatre, a large outdoor concert venue in East Troy, is for sale.

My first thought was that I wanted to buy it. However, considering I probably can’t scrape up the $8.4 million – which is the asking price – I moved onto a second thought.

How is it that I never saw a show there?

I find this surprising, even perplexing, because I have seen hoards of concerts in the past 20-some years including 20 or so Grateful Dead shows in the ‘90s. The Dead played many concerts at Alpine Valley, but somehow I never saw one at Alpine even though I caught gigs at Red Rocks, Madison Square Garden, Freedom Hall, Soldier Field and more.

Turns out, a lot of other Milwaukeeans have fond memories of Alpine Valley, and when I asked on Facebook for their favorite Alpine Valley show, the responses came fast and furious.

Lori Ahrenhoerster: "The Moody Blues, summer of 1988."

Steve Braley: "Bob Seger, about 1980."

Rick Charlie: "Best show? Honestly, The Daz Band and Kool & The Gang. Not totally my cup of tea but it was the best show of all of them."

Brian Eckes: "Stevie Ray Vaughn and Eric Clapton."

Rachel Fell: "Radiohead!"

Christopher Gerard: "Lollapalooza."

Saul Glazer: "Rolling Stones: 1989."

Lee Guk: "Metallica. Motley Crue / Megadeath. Pearl Jam."

Michael Henszey: "The Who, 1989."

Melanie Becker Hovey: "America."

Damien Jaques: "The Eurythmics."

Dan Krass: "Radiohead and Bob Dylan. Was out there for The Dead and Jimmy Buffett, but didn't go in and roamed around and hung out with the lot lizards. Great times."

Jenny Steinman Heyden: "Tom Petty, 1985. But the show is only a small percentage of the ‘Alpine Valley experience.’ Just finding your car is entertainment."

Dave Mikolajek: "Tibetan Freedom Concert with the Beastie Boys as the headliner in 1999."

Thomas Mosley: "The Dead, but I forgot which one. Go figure."

Sonia Nahla: "Shaun Cassidy."

Bjorn Olaf Nassett: "Stevie Nicks in 1986. She danc…

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It's been a rewarding summer for Steven and Pamela, owners of Contemporary Pull.
It's been a rewarding summer for Steven and Pamela, owners of Contemporary Pull.

It's champagne time for Contemporary Pull

In May, I reported on Conteporary Pull, a line of unique hardware.

Recently, co-owner Pamela Anderson informed me of a few recent successes for her dream-come-true company.

Earlier this month, Bradco Kitchen and Design, located in Los Angeles, became the first design company in Los Angeles to feature Contemporary Pull in its showroom.

Contemporary Pulls were also featured in a recent extensive home sustainability redesign, which included ground-linked thermal mass concrete floors, exterior microclimate courtyards, reclaimed cream city bricks from Schlitz Brewhouse and salvaged pickle-barrel cypress siding.

Finally, Contemporary Pull received an honorable mention at the seventh annual International Design Awards (IDA) in the Urban Sustainable Design category.

"It was the first time Contemporary Pull entered the competition and we are thrilled to be recognized in a field of 102 international companies from 25 countries," says Anderson, who owns the business with her husband, Steven Kaishian.