Asian Mart is Out, Ugly’s is in
Say goodbye to live blue crabs
The Asian Mart, 1125 N. Old World 3rd St., a downtown mainstay for 38 years, “closed due to retirement” on Feb. 21, if you believe the banner in the window. Or, rather, it will soon, judging by the “open” sign on the door.
According to yet another window sign, a tavern license is pending for a new establishment called “Ugly’s” that plans to set up shop in the old store. On the shelves there, a small amount of inventory remains, ranging from Bee and Flower soap to half-price red ginseng roots.
Owners Carmelino Capati, Jr. and his wife, Concepcion Capati, bought the 9,100 square-foot building in 1983 for $125,000 and will continue to own it, according to Michael Capati, who was minding the shop on a recent afternoon. The 1924 structure is now valued at $380,000.
The store’s customers have represented a Milwaukee melting pot, drawing from the ranks of Capati’s Filipino countrymen, Jamaicans, Africans, tourists, vegetarians and Asian folks from all regions, along with countless culinary adventurers. It was the only place in this city in memory to (occasionally) offer live blue crabs, and it was an essential stop on the Usinger’s/Spice House circuit for many people.
Carmelino’s friendly personality brought much life to the street and happiness to his customers, as did his good-humored way of overstating prices by a factor of 100, as in, “That will be five hundred thirty two dollars, please."
HINES SITE IS THE BEST
The Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery was the site of a fundraiser on Feb. 16 for Common Council President Willie L. Hines, Jr. The 15th District alderman is running for re-election, as are his 14 colleagues. His is one of the more interesting races since his opponent, Eyon Biddle Sr., is sacrificing a seat on the county board to which he had only recently been elected.
|Ald. Hines (photo by Michael Horne)
Hines was introduced by a fellow alderman, Ashanti Hamilton, who told the assembled multitude that when he joined the council, he “looked for someone who represented leadership to me … how we conduct business, how we present ourselves to the public.” That someone turned out to be Hines, who showed “impeccable character and impeccable leadership” on the council, particularly “at a time when it had lost much of its institutional memory."
Speaking for himself, Hines noted that he wears “many hats,” including those of Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee. He’s also a member of Visit Milwaukee, the Milwaukee World Festival (Summerfest) and the Wisconsin Center Board of Directors, in addition to serving as Common Council president and 15th District alderman, the last of which, he said, was his particular pride. As far as being challenged in this race, Hines said he “does not expect the outcome to be any different.”
That Hines is running for re-election and not for mayor is a matter of some speculation. He almost certainly would have run (as acting mayor) had Tom Barrett succeeded in his race for Governor. And he might likely be in that position again should Barrett prevail over Walker in a recall, in the event Barrett enters the race.
Among the attendees were fellow aldermen Terry Witkowski, Nik Kovac and Bob Bauman. Bauman, the downtown alderman, said he “had his ass handed to (him)” earlier that day at a Steering and Rules Committee meeting that also included a rare appearance by the mayor.
Bauman has been testy about a number of issues lately. For instance, he would like to redevelop the intersection of North 27th Street and West Wisconsin Avenue, by, among other things, relocating the police administration building there. Bauman was also critical of the administration’s secrecy in buying the old Sydney Hih building for a proposed headquarters for Kohl’s Corporation, the retail empire that is apparently locked into Menomonee Falls both by geography and mentality.
Bauman said he thought the now-abandoned plan to move Kohl’s headquarters to the Park East area “was never real."
Others in the audience included Evan Zeppos of Zeppos and Associates; SEIU Director Peter Hanrahan, who used to be Biddle’s boss; Sachin Chheda, Democratic Party Chair and principal at Nation Consulting; H. Carl Mueller and Timothy McMurtry II of Mueller Communications; Atty. Vince Bobot of Bobot Law Office; former Assembly Speaker Wally Kunicki, now of WE Energies; United Community Center Director Ricardo Diaz; Cecilia Gilbert of the Milwaukee Department of Public Works; Kimberly Montgomery of the mayor’s office; Alan Goodman and others too numerous to mention, including Sen. Lena Taylor, who was mulling a write-in candidacy for Milwaukee city comptroller.
VIRTUAL MUSEUM FINDS A HOME
Best Place owner Jim Haertel says the place is booked for nearly every weekend this year and that tourist and regular business is increasing. He also announced that the Museum of Beer and Brewing, which has long sought a home, will occupy a portion of the old Pabst Brew House, which is being converted into an extended-stay Brew House Inn and Suites hotel.
LEONHARDT MULLS FUTURE
Will longtime City Clerk Ronald D. Leonhardt run for re-election when the Common Council holds its charter meeting on April 11? “I’m not sure,” he said on a recent weekday lunch hour, strolling downtown in comfortable shoes. “I guess I better make up my mind.”
HORNE'S 58th BIRTHDAY PARTY
I’ll be holding my 58th birthday party on Saturday, Feb. 25 at the Y-Not II Tavern, 706 E. Lyon St. I’ll pretty much be camped out there all day, so come at your leisure.