The Changing Face Of Brady Street

by Tim Lambrecht

In recent months Brady Street has witnessed a number of changes in its storefront businesses. Some of the stores have closed altogether while others have moved.
Grava Gallery, Three Graces and Metropawlis have all relocated their businesses to the revitalized Third Ward.
Oxford Glass and Dykeman Heating and Air Condition are moving to other east side locations.
Salon du Monde and Tsunami Ink have closed altogether and Video Adventures is in the process of doing so. Giovanni’s restaurant on Brady and Van Buren recently closed as well.
Why so much change?
It would appear that Brady Street’s own success might be costing them some of their businesses. What was once Milwaukee’s own low-rent Haight-Ashbury district now finds itself a hip place for trendy upscale salons and clothing stores. With more and more people shopping on Brady Street and moving to new condos and apartments in the area, property taxes have risen, which means landlords need to raise the rent charged for their spaces. At some point, small businesses cannot make enough money to justify the higher rents and they are forced to move or close.
Many of the businesses have been on the street for many years, back when it wasn’t so popular, and it’s sad when they have to vacate the neighborhood they helped popularize. The Third Ward has become the city’s up-andcoming area for small businesses with lower rent for larger spaces.
Change is not always a bad thing. When Metropawlis unfortunately closed its Brady Street store, another locally owned business, Waterford Wine Company, opened in its place. Having locally-owned businesses and stores on Brady Street means that owners will care about their property and work to make needed improvements.
It’s important that Brady Street retains its uniqueness. It needs to maintain its independent identity, and local businesses are one way to do that. It’s important that we support our local businesses. Hopefully, chain stores will not be what is left when the last domino falls.
Speaking of changes, there is a rumor that the Giovanni’s restaurant site on Van Buren and Brady may become a new stand-alone Walgreen’s replacing the one at the east end of Brady Street at Farwell. Throughout the city, you see where Walgreen’s stores in strip malls and malls have closed and opened a new larger store nearby. This move would make business sense for Walgreen’s as it would open up their accessibility to downtown and Commerce Street customers who could easily walk across the Marsupial Bridge to it.
The Esplanada Theatre will perform Stephen Belber’s “Tape” June 28 – July 1 at 8 p.m. at The Astor Street Theatre located in the Brady Street Pharmacy. The play is about two longtime friends and the woman who comes between them. Tickets are $7. PG-13 for adult themes. Tickets are available at the door or by calling 272-4384.
The Pharmacy will also be offering classes on filmmaking starting in July.
“Script Construction / Producing” will be taught on Tuesday nights, July 18, 25 and August 1. $30, limited to 15 people.
“Using the camera to tell a story” will be Tuesdays August 8, 15 and 22, $35, limited to ten people.
Local filmmaker Ross Bigley will be teaching the classes. An acting class is being planned for later in August as well. To reserve your space or for more information, call the pharmacy.
Circa, located just off Brady Street at 1754 N. Franklin Place, invites players of all levels for chess night Tuesdays and poker night Thursdays, while Wednesdays are “Acoustic Night with Matt Tyner”
The next Critical Mass bike ride will take place on June 30 starting at 7:00. Bikers will meet at 6:30 at Riverside Park. The Bike-In Movie at the Marsupial Bridge Media Garden for June 30 will be “Il Postino”(Italian, 1994), a film about friendship, poetry and bikes… so go for a ride, and then come back for the movie! “The Real Dirt On Farmer John,” a film about an Illinois hippie who became the owner of one of the nation’s first cooperative farms, will be shown on July 26. It won the audience award for best documentary at the 2005 Milwaukee International Film Festival last year.
Enjoy a walking tour of Brady Street every Saturday at 10 am from June 10 to October 14. Guides will lead you on a tour that lasts about 90 minutes and where you will walk about half a mile. Meet in front of St. Hedwig’s Church. The tour is $7, $2 students. Call 277-7795.
The Third Annual Brady Street Artisan Food Festival will be held July 30. If you can volunteer at this fun event, call Marlene at 276-2510.
Some Brady Street businesses were the target of vandals at the beginning of June. Brady Street Futons and the Up And Under were both tagged by graffiti artists, as was the Marsupial Bridge. If you see anyone doing it, call the graffiti hotline immediately at 286-8715.
If you have a story idea or item for Brady Bits, contact Tim at 374-7772.

Riverwest Currents online edition – July, 2006