There was a time – typically winter – that I'd be at Mayfair almost weekly. And the Alterra Coffee kiosk, smack dab in front of Williams-Sonoma was my watering hole.
In recent months my visits to the mall have been short and strategic, so I only noticed yesterday that the Alterra kiosk is gone. It's been out for about a month now, it seems.
I couldn't believe it. Though it's not quite on the same scale, the mall felt a bit like it did after the skating rink was removed. But in that case we were warned and there were months of renovations. It was no surprise.
So, I sent a note to Alterra co-owner Lincoln Fowler, who said, "We loved the kiosk, too! Sadly, we were unable to come to terms with Mayfair for a renewal of our lease."
The kiosk appeared to do a brisk business and rarely was I able to saunter up and order without waiting behind at least a couple folks. Sometimes – pretty often – there was what appeared to be healthy caffeine-fueled traffic. But I don't know the details of the math involved in making the kiosk financially viable.
I do know that the Alterra nearby at 92nd and North is expanding. And I know that a new location on 68th and Wells is expected to open by spring. Last week I passed that site, and the empty building there had been razed in preparation.
And, word is that Alterra is taking Horace Greeley's famous exhortation and headed west, too. (I'll let you know when there are details on that).
In the meantime, I will try to remember to stop and grab my Alterra on the way to Mayfair. But it'll be a hard habit to break, stopping at the kiosk for some coffee to wash down the samples at Williams-Sonoma.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.