By Jeff Sherman Staff Writer Published May 28, 2008 at 12:49 PM

In January, I wrote about my desire for a coffee vendor at the shiny, beautiful and new Amtrak station. Vending machines don't cut it, nor do they provide the image or quality that the station deserves.

Today, Ald. Robet J. Bauman agreed and is blasting a decision by the California-based station operator to lease a 3,200-sq. ft. restaurant space at Milwaukee's new $15.8 million Amtrak Depot / Intermodal Facility to a local vending machine company.  

"Just six months after the celebration and speeches at the VIP ribbon cutting ceremony we find there will be no counter service, no cocktail bar, no sit down food service, and no breakfast, lunch or dinner served at this magnificent facility any time soon," said Bauman.

"Forget the Oyster Bar (a reference to the famous restaurant in New York City's Grand Central Station) or the multiple restaurants at Washington D.C.'s Union Station -- Milwaukee travelers will have to settle for plastic-wrapped sandwiches, soda pop and potato chips," he said.  Not to mention, Chicago's Union Station.  

Bauman, whose district includes Downtown and the Third Ward, has been a strong proponent of the remodeled transit facility and expressed his displeasure and frustration about the food and beverage options being pursued there.

"Several years ago the city and the federal government stepped up to the plate to provide additional funds to upgrade WisDOT's bare-boned remodeling of the Amtrak Depot resulting in the magnificent facility that all Milwaukee residents can be proud of," he said.

"Unfortunately WisDOT and Wilton Partners are once again trying to do the job on the cheap. Instead of working to develop an affordable leasing opportunity that would attract a full-service restaurant, they have settled for vending machines and a convenience store. This is a disgrace."

Bauman, chair of the Council's Public Works Committee, continued: "It is indeed ironic that WisDOT has no problem spending billions of dollars expanding Milwaukee area freeways, but when it comes to their Amtrak Depot / Intermodal Facility, vending machines will suffice. The citizens of Milwaukee did not make this investment in order to see this iconic facility degraded after only six months (of operation)."

Bauman is calling for WisDOT to "immediately instruct its operator, Wilton Partners, to revamp the lease terms for the restaurant area in order to attract a quality local restaurateur. Failing that, WisDOT should terminate their relationship with Wilton Partners at once.

"The citizens of Milwaukee, as financial partners in this venture, will stand for nothing less," he said.

Alderman, I couldn't agree more! Milwaukee? Your thoughts? Use the talkbacks now.

Jeff Sherman Staff Writer

A life-long and passionate community leader and Milwaukeean, Jeff Sherman is a co-founder of OnMilwaukee.

He grew up in Wauwatosa and graduated from Marquette University, as a Warrior. He holds an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University, and is the founding president of Young Professionals of Milwaukee (YPM)/Fuel Milwaukee.

Early in his career, Sherman was one of youngest members of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, and currently is involved in numerous civic and community groups - including board positions at The Wisconsin Center District, Wisconsin Club and Marcus Center for the Performing Arts.  He's honored to have been named to The Business Journal's "30 under 30" and Milwaukee Magazine's "35 under 35" lists.  

He owns a condo in Downtown and lives in greater Milwaukee with his wife Stephanie, his son, Jake, and daughter Pierce. He's a political, music, sports and news junkie and thinks, for what it's worth, that all new movies should be released in theaters, on demand, online and on DVD simultaneously.

He also thinks you should read OnMilwaukee each and every day.