Don't get me wrong, I'm pleased to hear that a 28,000-square foot Fresh Thyme will open in the third phase of Mandel Group's The North End development on Pleasant and Water Streets, but it's yet another grocery store clustered together in the northeast edge of Downtown.
According to its website: "At Fresh Thyme Farmers Markets we believe you shouldn’t have to give away the farm to feed your body nutritious food. We’re on a mission to improve the way our communities eat by offering fresh and healthy food at amazing values – all in a vibrant and fun shopping environment, with smiling friendly faces. Our stores don’t follow traditional grocery store design, nor do they have tall aisles or glitzy fixtures. In fact, our stores are so simple and easy to navigate that we don’t number our aisles or hand out store maps. We believe shopping for fresh and healthy food should be easy and enjoyable."
Fresh Thyme is slated to open in 2015, according to the website. It is expected to be one of 23 stores opening in the Midwest, and one of two in Wisconsin. The other will be at Bluemound and Calhoun in Brookfield.
As someone who works Downtown, this doesn't do me much good. Sure, I can pop in there with my car on the way in or out of work – though I can already do that at three Pick 'N Saves and a Whole Foods that are along my daily commute. (And Glorioso's and Sendik's are just short detours.)
But what Downtown needs is a shot of adrenaline in the heart and I think a store like this in, say, the Grand Avenue – I'm pretty sure there's some space available in the Plankinton Arcade – or with some movie theaters above it on that long-empty lot on the corner of 3rd and Wells would be great.
Folks living Downtown could walk – sales of those wheeled shopping carts everyone had when I was growing up would skyrocket – and the thousands of folks who work in the City Center could pop over for lunch or to pick up snacks or a steak to toss on the grill for dinner.
I'm sure Fresh Thyme has done its research, but why am I skeptical that a location within a cantaloupe's toss of both Metro Market and the East Pointe Pick 'N Save is the best place for a new grocery store in the Downtown area?
And it's not all that far from another Pick 'N Save on Humboldt and North.
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.