Being an Uber driver in Milwaukee is a one-of-a-kind experience that let's Dave Begel meet some of the most interesting people, residents as well as visitors, to the city. Everybody has a story, and Tales of the Road will highlight some of those stories. The stories have been edited into quotes from riders. Names have been omitted or changed to preserve the privacy of his passengers.
I picked Chris Miller up at a Downtown hotel, and the address he gave me was a little strange.
"Just go to 4th Street as far as you can, then turn right and then come back to 4th Street; the entrance is there," he said.
I asked what the entrance was for, and he said it was the "new Bucks arena."
Asking him if he worked there, he replied, "I’m in charge of the construction."
What does that mean?
"Well, I represent the owners," he said. "I keep things on schedule and on budget. This is going to be a beautiful facility. Just beautiful. I work with the construction firm and the architects. This is going to be a great place."
Miller has built a number of facilities including the Sprint Center in Kansas City, the Sports Authority Field at Mile High (home to the Denver Broncos) and Harbor House, a mixed use development that’s home to the NHL's Buffalo Sabres.
Miller is a vice president of ICON Venue Group, and he works out of Charlotte, N. C.
"The Bucks arena is going to be one of the best," Miller said. "I think people are going to love it."
When the George Watts Tea Room closes just after Christmas, it'll mark the end of a 155-year-old tradition for the city – as well as a six-year tradition for Marvin Campbell.
Campbell has been the sous chef at the highbrow tea shop for six years and is saddened by the decision by the Watts family to close the shop.
"It’s too bad," he said during a recent early morning ride to work. "When they made the announcement, almost all the staff left. But the business has been crazy since people found out it’s closing.
"The only kitchen staff left are me and the executive chef (Jason Stevens)."
Since the announcement of the closing was made in November, the restaurant has seen a flood of diners coming in for a last meal.
"We’ve been awfully busy," Campbell said. "If we had been this busy all along, then we’d probably be staying open.
"I know there are people who hope that an angel will come in and keep it open, but I doubt if that’s going to happen. I think this is it."
Campbell is going to drive for Uber after the restaurant closes until he decides what to do.
"I’m in my 20s, but I have the back of a 60-year-old," he said. "Being a chef is tough on your back, so we’ll just have to see what comes next."
I asked him if he’d be willing to share any of the classic recipes, like the Sunshine cake, the olive nut sandwiches or the famous homemade English muffins.
"No recipes," he said, laughing. "But we make the dough for the muffins and then let it proof for about an hour. Then we shape them and cook them on a flattop. Six minutes on one side and 18 minutes on the other."
With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.
He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.
This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as OnMilwaukee.com keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.
Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.