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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Monday, Nov. 24, 2014

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The new Pizza Man opened yesterday.
The new Pizza Man opened yesterday.

Miscellaneous slices of the new Pizza Man story

I spoke with Mike Amidzich, the owner of Pizza Man, about a story I wrote about Downer Avenue merchants and the question of whether there can be too much pizza on one block.

During our conversation, Amidzich told me a couple of details that did not quite fit into the article, but I had to share because they are really great.

First of all, Amidzich reminded me that the former Pizza Man on North Avenue was not consumed by fire; instead, it was destroyed by smoke and water damage. The upstairs of the building burned, but the fire was stopped before flames reached the bar and restaurant.

Hence, the original bar which survived the water damage is in the new Pizza Man. Originally, it was sold to a private collector and then repurchased.

"A lot of people don’t know about this," says Amidzich.

The iconic sign was, however, destroyed in the fire so the sign on the new location is an almost-exact replica of the old one.

There’s a story behind the doors, too. As longtime Pizza Man fans will remember, the place had a very heavy front door with a pulley system. For years, Amidzich says customers complained about how difficult the door was to open, so after the fire, when he was originally dreaming of reintroducing his restaurant somewhere else, he never thought about rebuilding with the same doors.

However, someone wrote on Pizza Man’s Facebook page that they hoped the new joint would have the same door as the old space, and so many people liked the comment that Mike decided to install two 400-pound, solid wood doors to his new structure.

"It took four guys to move one of the doors," he says.

There is also an electric door-opening option now, unlike the former Pizza Man, for people who are differently abled – or just not feeling very mighty.

"I even use that button sometimes," says Amidzich. "Those doors are heavy."

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The Milwaukee drawer.
The Milwaukee drawer.

Archiving my Alterra T-shirts

When I found out that Alterra was changing its name to Colectivo, I did two things: wrote a story fleshing out the details of the name change (coming Monday morning) and moved my Alterra T-shirts to my vintage Milwaukee T-shirt drawer.

There they join the stack of my other shirts that are – for whatever reason – no longer available, including Oriental Drugs "I’m Hooked On Oriental Drugs" shirt, Atomic Records, Koppa’s (the business switched hands in February), my old band hand-screened tees and my favorite OnMilwaukee.com shirt that’s now a decade old.

My bottom drawer is a sacred space: part dresser drawer part wearable art museum, and it rarely sees the light of day. I wear these shirts, but very infrequently. They mean as much to me as the few onesies I saved that were once worn by my sons.

Bury me in these shirts, OK?

Give Terra a try in a couple of weeks.
Give Terra a try in a couple of weeks.

Walker's Point Mexican restaurant on the move

Last year, I reported on a new Mexican restaurant in Walker’s Point, Terra, 624 W. National Ave.

The bar and restaurant is in the process of moving and will soon reopen at 600 S. 6th St., the former Kafe Kultura space which was Pedrano’s before that.

Everything from Terra's decor to the menu is different than other Latin eateries in the neighborhood with an emphasis on a nature-influenced decor and a menu that spanned beyond the usual tacos and burritos.

The  National Avenue space, however, was not ideal.

Perhaps if the now-defunct Acapulco Lounge – "The Other Conejito’s" – was still in business on the block, Terra might have benefited from more foot traffic.

A block or two can make a huge difference for a business, so this is a good move for this often-overlooked restaurant. Plus, the food is consistently fresh and they serve breakfast.

With the upcoming addition of Cafe La Paloma, along with classics like La Perla, La Fuente and Botanas, 5th and 6th Streets are about to become a truly diverse Mexican food and drink destination.

District 14 Brewery and Pub will move in next door to Cafe Lulu.
District 14 Brewery and Pub will move in next door to Cafe Lulu.

District 14 brew pub coming to Bay View

District 14 Brewery and Pub will open next door to Cafe Lulu this fall at 2273 S. Howell Ave. Owner Matthew McCullough is hoping to open in September or October.

I stopped by today to get the full scoop.

Yesterday, McCullough was officially approved for his liquor license – contingent on occupancy and health code inspections. The next step is to get his federal and state brewpub permits finalized.

"If I can get those inline by early-to-mid September, we can be ready to open in late September or October," he says. "Otherwise November for sure."

According to McCullough, the concept for his new brewpub is simple but unique.

"I am opening a craft brewery – brewpub technically – and instead of trying to schlep kegs and bottles of beer all over the country or even all over the state, I will be selling it a glass at a time," he says. "I don't trust distributors to sell it for me, and I don't like that they take half the profit, so I am bypassing all middle men and selling the freshest possible beer directly to the person who is drinking it."

District 14 will also sell growlers to go.

McCullough says he will make a few exceptions and deliver beer to a few handpicked Milwaukee area bars/restaurants owned by personal friends and maybe a couple of neighbors. Cafe LuLu might have a beer or two on tap.

"We are just talking about it now, but I really hope that will come together. I think of Cafe LuLu as setting the standard for upscale casual food in this area and would be honored to work with them," he says.

McCullough’s plan is to open the pub with four beers on tap and then add a new beer every day for the first week. 

"I will have 10 tap lines and likely keep four or five the same with five or six rotating. I don't know of any other brewery that can and does run 10 unique beers at the same time," he says.

McCullough started out as a homebrewer about 10 years ago. He credits his parents for his confidence and vision.

"Both of my parents are gone, but they were both teachers. …

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