Despite the mild start to January, it’s plenty chilly to lace up some skates and hit the ice. And, thanks to Kegel’s Inn, 5901 W. National Ave., you can do it right in the street in West Allis.
On Saturday morning, the West Allis Fire Department stopped by the century-old German eatery -- which opened a beer garden on 59th Street last summer -- to pour water into a frame to create a 35-by-75-foot sheet of ice on the site of the beer garden, between National and Greenfield Avenues.
"The beer garden (in cooperation with Public Table Restaurant) this past summer and fall was by all accounts a smashing success," said Julian Kegel, owner and operator of Kegel’s Inn, in a statement.
"We were looking for a way to continue to use that community space through the winter and the concept of a free public ice rink makes perfect sense."
With the current forecast, it should take about 10 days to get a nice solid sheet of ice, at which point the rink will be ready for skaters.
"We are always appreciative when businesses step up to add amenities such as this to our neighborhoods," West Allis Mayor Dan Devine told me.
"The biergarten was extremely popular this summer and it is great to see continued activity there through the winter. It is a great opportunity for people to visit West Allis and explore all the cool, new things happening."
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.