Pat Gleason has lived multiple lives and has many passions. Recently, he and his wife, Jeanette, opened Bus Stop Coffee Shop, 4424 W. Lisbon Ave., and they will soon launch the Midwest School of Photography in the same building.
According to Jeanette, it’s a dream come true for Pat as well as an outlet for his many skills and talents.
When the Gleasons walked through the dilapidated building more than two years ago, they knew it was what they were looking for.
Part of the reason why Pat found the building so appealing was because it was built in 1928, the same year his father was born. Jeanette says she just got a good feeling from the space – particularly in the basement where she now has a private arts and crafts room.
The couple purchased the foreclosed building and spent the next 16 months completely rehabbing the brick two-story.
"Basically, we put a new building inside an old building," says Pat. "We started with the roof and worked down."
The couple did most of the work themselves, hiring only a few skilled tradespeople along the way.
"And somehow we didn’t kill each other," says Jeanette.
The Gleasons were married in 2011 after they met at H&R Block where they worked at the time. Both had three grown children.
"We’re the Brady Bunch," jokes Jeanette, who was born in Puerto Rico.
After they completed the massive build-out, the Gleasons moved into the upstairs apartment and opened the cafe which offers breakfast and lunch six days a week. They are closed on Sundays.
"And nobody’s messing that up," says Jeanette.
The space is clean, bright and cozy featuring only a few tables with boomerang-formica tops. Many of the orders are carry out. The walls are adorned with large photos taken by Pat of Milwaukee County busses, which stop in front of the cafe.
Pat’s father worked as a Chicago street car driver and later as a bus driver which is another reason why he named his cafe Bus Stop Coffee Shop.
The menu is still evolving, but offers primarily sandwiches, wraps, paninis, soups, Stone Creek Coffee and baked goods. All of the sandwiches are served on Pat's fresh bread and come with macaroni salad or grapes and a home-baked cookie.
The Bus Stop’s customers are helping to shape the menu.
"Ken lives around the corner and he likes two eggs, corn beef hash and toast, so we call that the Uncle Kenny Special," says Pat. "Nick gets the sample-sized coffee and one piece of cinnamon toast, so that’s called Nick’s Quickie."
For Pat, cooking and baking have always been a passion and, for a time, a profession. He worked as a pastry chef on board the Delta Queen Mississippi River Boat which travels from Minneapolis / St. Paul to New Orleans.
He also learned a lot about making other food while on the boat and some of his soups are inspired by the Louisiana chefs he met on board.
Pat took classes at The French Pastry School in Chicago, The Art Institute of Wisconsin’s culinary school and has been a member of the Bread Bakers Guild of America since 2006.
"Bread is my hobby and my passion," says Pat, who makes bread everyday, as well as coffee cakes, muffins, cheese cakes, cookies and more.
Pat says he plans to open the photography school "as soon as humanly possible" and will teach some of the classes himself.
"I'll teach a digital photography workshop for all age groups. Basically teach people how to use a digital camera and how to take better pictures," he says.
He also plans to hire guest teachers to provide workshops.
Previously, Pat worked as a professional photojournalist and travel photographer. In 2004, he attended the Rocky Mountain School of Photography which will serve as the model for the Midwest School of Photography.
Pat used to travel extensively on his Harley Davidson and, during his roadtrips, took a lot of photos. Currently, however, he does not have a bike.
"I hit 50 and I realized I'm no longer invincible like I had been all the rest of my life," he says.
During the middle of the building rehab process, Pat received a pacemaker and spent 20 days in the hospital.
"I’ve been feeling pretty good since then," he says.
So far, Bus Stop Coffee Shop's business has been better than expected. "The people in the neighborhood really needed a spark," says Pat. "They come in here and are very supportive."
The Gleasons are very active in the Washington Park neighborhood and serve as block watch captains. They frequently host community meetings in the photography school’s classroom space.
"All of this is a dream and a vision," says Pat.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.