New kid in the old neighborhood

Middleton, Wisconsin’s Town Hall ParkBY ED FELIEN

The crossroads of 50th Street and 34th Avenue are clouded in my imagination by ancient memories. I remember the Leola Theatre and double features for 35 cents, Sadoff Drugstore with its soda fountain, and fast cars with fins. And I remember bowling at the Skylane Bowling alley. But the years had taken their toll on the Skylane and, thankfully, last year Pete and Scott bought the building for their latest outpost in their expanding Town Hall franchise.
They own Town Hall Brewing on Seven Corners at Washington and Cedar Avenues—where they’ve brew-ed all their concoctions in the basement since 1997, and they own Town Hall Tap at 48th and Chicago, but they’ve never owned a bowling alley until Town Hall Lanes.
Pete and Scott grew up in Middleton, Wis., just this side of Madison. They met as seventh graders at Kromrey Middle School, and their happiest memories are from the baseball field at Town Hall Park where they played ball when they were 13.
It must have been a championship season for them then, because they’re still pleasing the folks in the stands with their string of successful beer pubs. The pub grub is a little out of the ordinary for a bowling alley. The flatbread, thin crust pizza and the gutterball (a spicy meatball in twice baked dough) have Italian ancestors and fit right in with the magnificent chandelier hanging in the dining room. They also have the soft cheese stuffed pretzel, a Town Hall favorite appetizer, at the bowling alley. The dining room is elegant. The bar is wonderfully old-fashioned with fancy woodwork, and the bowling alley is sleekly modern with a retro feel. The rest of the corner at 50th and 34th is special, but sometimes it’s refreshing to have someone else look at it for you to fully appreciate it. Bill Lindeke, writing in his blog, Twin Cities Sidewalks, for August 21, 2013, saw the intersection for the first time, and he was charmed: “The other day I happened across the holy grail of sidewalk wandering: the perfect corner—quiet sidewalks leading into a neighborhood center containing just the right amount of life, as if Goldilocks lived here. On this crossing, buildings come together and collect at this spot, reaching up just high enough, like picking grapes at a Rococco picnic.”
He is enchanted by the innocence: “Stepping into this neighborhood it feels somehow like I’ve been here before. It is uncanny.”
It is so ordinary, so natural, so commonplace, and, yet, so perfect.
“But here’s where the magic of Nokomis appears. Planters sit along the freshly painted blank wall. The parking lot is lined with a small garden, and bike racks appear along the street. Everywhere on this corner, the neighborhood somehow transforms auto shops into sidewalks, drive-thru banks into meaningful places. Care is visible, like laugh wrinkles of an old woman with a good sense of humor.”

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