Today, over wings at the table in the Cresa Milwaukee conference room, our office broker and neighbor Steve Palec asked me, "how much has your life improved since you moved into this building?"
Palec was referring to the fact that I am now swimming at the adjacent Gold’s Gym on a theoretically daily basis. "You couldn’t swim in anything at your old place," he quipped.
He was right, despite some minor hiccups in my daily schedule to due the geographical switch, my work-day life has changed a lot – and for the better – since OnMilwaukee.com moved into City Center at 735 on Water Street last fall.
There’s a coffee shop in the lobby with friendly staff, our office looks out over City Hall (and there’s a panorama to the south out the hallway windows), there plentiful parking for us across the street, the building staff practically dotes on us, a massage therapist visits on a regular basis at a bargain rate, some mornings there’s free breakfast in the lobby. If I wanted to, I could have my dry cleaning done while I’m at work and the oil changed in my car, too, though I haven’t yet availed myself of those services.
City Center’s Deanna Schwenner also programs the lobby music which has included everything from Neko Case to Dawes to The Decemberists to The Pixies. That might be a small thing, since I only really experience it for a minute or two a day, walking through the lobby, but it always makes me smile.
But what Palec is too modest to point out is that my life is better in good part because of him. His commercial real estate brokerage office is adjacent to ours and Steve invites us over for, well, today it was wings. On another visit he welcomed our arrival with a spread of Italian food.
When the Mets were in town, he indulged me with some fabulous tickets to two of the three games. When we needed someone to step up to review The Eagles at Summerfest, he did a bang-up job on a couple days’ notice.
Best of all Palec’s staff not only doesn’t look askance, but actually welcomes me when I pop in to make use of Cresa’s very own in-office cafe. (Cresa also has a music room with a turntable and a selection of vinyl and they're working on creating a relaxation room with a recliner! I think it's best if I just stay away from those.)
In addition to televisions showing news and baseball, the Cresa coffee shop has an array of coffee machines, pods, snacks, a candy jar, the daily newspaper, a spinner rack full of magazine and some super-comfortable furniture. There's also a doggie bed, but it's too small for my pooches so I haven't brought them in to test it out yet.
Initially, I was a bit shy about using the cafe, thinking Steve’s invitations to use it were meant sort of casually, off-handedly. But, after many implorations by him and his team, I now stop in a few times a week. It offers a welcome change of atmosphere for a few minutes and a nice jolt of caffeine. Plus, if Steve’s around, I’m sure to get an anecdote from his insanely interesting life. Today, I learned about how on a whim Bud Selig whisked him by plane to see an ALCS game in Detroit and the following year another one in Cleveland.
In fact, I’m going to go there right now to, ahem, take a photo to run with this posting. I may also grab an espresso ... at the Cresa Cafe, where the smiles are free and everyone knows your name.
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.