Every week in 2015 (and the first few weeks of 2016), OnMilwaukee and local design company Too Much Metal join forces to introduce the latest member of the Milwaukee All-Stars – a team of unfamiliar winners living in the city who consistently and diligently make it shine. Each week, a new member will join the team – based on your recommendations – and at the end of the year all will come together in a Rally of the Raddest Milwaukeeans. We're not sure what that means quite yet, so for now, meet …
OnMilwaukee / Too Much Metal: How long have you worked at your job?
Rick Rodriguez: I’ve been a treasury management implementation analyst for a little over a year and a half, but over seven years total with U.S. Bank. I've been a food and beer enthusiast for over 15 years, and a blogger for over 4 years.
OnMilwaukee / Too Much Metal: What season is your favorite in Milwaukee and why?
Rodriguez: Summer is my favorite season. There is no place I would rather be than Milwaukee in the summer with our festivals, concerts in the parks, lakefront and patios at some of our great bars and restaurants.
OnMilwaukee / Too Much Metal: What’s your favorite or least favorite smell in Milwaukee?
Rodriguez: My favorite smell is the aroma while driving through Miller Valley. My least favorite smell is the sulfurous odor while driving over the Hoan Bridge.
OnMilwaukee / Too Much Metal: What neighborhood do you live in?
Rodriguez: I live in a duplex that I own in the Johnson's Woods neighborhood, just west of Miller Park.
OnMilwaukee / Too Much Metal: What’s your hope for Milwaukee?
Rodriguez: Amazing things have happened in Milwaukee over the past 10 years. We are getting national recognition for good reasons thanks to organizations like Visit Milwaukee, and The Greater Milwaukee Foundation is doing awesome work, making positive contributions to our community.
We have a great art and performing arts scene. We have professional sports teams, as well as Division I college basketball. We have a great park system and easy access to Lake Michigan. Our dining scene has exploded, and so has our craft beer and spirits scene.
My hope is that Milwaukee continues to grow. Our transit system has room for improvement and so does our local government. New small business owners encounter too many obstacles to get their doors open and create new jobs and exciting projects to push Milwaukee forward encounter too much resistance.
The obstacles seem to exist because too many – not all – of our elected officials and government employees either lack vision or don't feel empowered to make decisions. That causes prospective business owners to lose revenue and it keeps people unemployed. Our elected officials need to do better and it wouldn't hurt to replace the old school mentality with people who have fresh ideas and an open mind. Milwaukee is positioned to boom, so let it happen.
OnMilwaukee / Too Much Metal: When / how did you fall in love with Milwaukee?
Rodriguez: I was born and raised in Milwaukee and always loved it, but I really saw its potential when I became involved with the Young Professionals of Milwaukee, currently known as FUEL Milwaukee, around 12 or 13 years ago. The love grew even more when I started on Yelp over four years ago and met others who are passionate about Milwaukee.
OnMilwaukee / Too Much Metal: Why do you do what you do?
Rodriguez: Much of my career was spent helping small businesses. By blogging about restaurants and other businesses on Yelp and OnMilwaukee.com, as well as organizing group dinners at area restaurants, I get to help spread the word about the great businesses in Milwaukee that many don't even know exist. In the process, I'm making some new friends. It's win-win!
OnMilwaukee / Too Much Metal: What’s your one guilty pleasure?
Rodriguez: I love the ramen at Red Light Ramen by Ardent. That bowl of goodness gives me a warm hug before I go home to bed. I probably go there twice a month, sometimes more often and I try to get others addicted, too.
OnMilwaukee / Too Much Metal: Name a Milwaukeean you would like to high five?
Rodriguez: I've been lucky enough to meet and befriend hundreds of awesome Milwaukeeans over the past 20 years, and one organization that really stands out to me is NEWaukee. I really admire the work that they've done. I've had the privilege of meeting Ian Abston, who recently left NEWaukee for his next project, and Jeremy Fojut, but I haven't met Angela Damiani and I'd like to give her a high five, too.
Do you know a Milwaukee All-Star? OnMilwaukee.com and Too Much Metal are looking for true-hearted folks living in the city of Milwaukee who love what they do – and do it with zest and style. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com with recommendations.