The holidays are a great time to catch up with former Milwaukeeans who return to see family and friends. It seeems that, eventually, almost all conversations with former residents go back to the pros and cons of living in Brew City.
Focusing on the positive, because it’s a fresh New Year and all, here are the top three things numerous ex-pats miss about Milwaukee – along with a thing or two they don't yearn for.
Deone Jahnke is a photographer who moved from Milwaukee to Nashville in February 2013. Jahnke had been traveling to Nashville regularly for 10 years and staying a week or more at a time to work with record labels, music magazines, musical instrument manufacturers and professional trade organizations.
Jahnke’s music portraiture has been featured at the world famous Bluebird Cafe since September 2010, and in spring 2012, when ABC / Lionsgate created the "Nashville" TV series, they licensed her pictures to appear on the sets.
"Nashville is where I need to be," says Jahnke.
But that said, there are many things she misses about Milwaukee, with her top three being Lincoln Memorial Drive, Lake Michigan tap water, and Beans and Barley.
"That, of course, in addition to seeing the beloved family and friends that are still 'back home' in Milwaukee," says Jahnke. "I had a beautiful community of photographer friends there, and here in Music City, my friends are in the music industry – which I love – but I miss nerdy shop talk with other photographers."
Christopher Braman moved from Milwaukee to Washington, D.C. 15 years ago. Today he is a project manager for a federal contracting company and the father of two sons.
"I love it in D.C. I think, ironically, that the main reason I left Milwaukee is the racial segregation. Black friends visiting me were consistently profiled and pulled over. One friend refused to visit me," says Braman.
But Milwaukee, like most places, is a complicated place. And despite Braman’s disappointment with the actions of some Milwaukeeans, he says he still misses the friendliness of Brew City at the same time.
"It was culture shock moving to D.C. where it is difficult sometimes to meet new people," he says.
Braman, who adopted two African-American sons, says the third aspect he misses about Milwaukee is the ethnic diversity.
"I also miss all the great neighborhoods and the different flavors that Milwaukee has. Flavors as in the sense of ethnic and cultural flavors," says Braman. "Milwaukee is ironic in the sense that it is such a segregated city, but yet clearly celebrates different non-black cultures. Or at least celebrates them separately. I wouldn't have black kids in Milwaukee."
He also sometimes pines for the restaurants here. "Milwaukee has an amazing mix of really good restaurants for decent prices," says Braman. "Or at least it did 15 years ago."
Christopher Wing grew up in Bay View but in 2009 moved to Changwon, South Korea, with his wife. He runs Gold Wings English which offers Korean / English translation services, as well as corporate and individual English classes. He is also an animator.
"Actually, I have been missing some things about Milwaukee lately," says Wing. "The first would be the abundance of quality sharp cheddar cheese."
The second thing he misses is good coffee, specifically Colectivo Coffee.
"We've had it shipped a few times, but it is never as good as having it at the coffee shop," he says. "And to round out the food trio nicely, I think the third thing I miss most about Milwaukee is Karl's Country Market's bratwurst."
Victoria Rome moved from Milwaukee in 1988 to attend college at UCLA. She still lives in California but returns to Milwaukee regularly.
"I miss driving by the lakefront from the art museum to Lake Park, Brewer's games and the building with the light on top that changes colors to forecast the weather," she says. "There are many more but those are pretty random."
Mark Fitzsimmons moved from Milwaukee to Boulder, Colo., in 2005 after meeting the woman of his dreams while on vacation in Mexico. The two were married in 2007 and although he is satisfied with his new city, he was able to express the three things he still misses about Milwaukee in just three words.
"Packers, Brewers, Bucks," says Fitzsimmmons.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.