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Chocolate, Microbrews, Competition—Madison Main Street Looking Up!

Last updated on 2014.06.25

My teetotaling heart raps double-quick at Jane Utecht's report that Madison will soon have one less place to get alcohol. (And Gaia be praised, it's not being replaced with a smut shop). Main Street's new addiction: chocolate!

...the Trojan Tap is being revamped into a sweet shop.

Vicki and Ricky Johns bought the building last month and plan on serving homemade chocolate, and they will have an old-fashioned ice cream parlor. They will also have espresso coffee and smoothies [Jane Utecht, "Face of Downtown Changes; 3 New Business Coming to S. Egan," Madison Daily Leader, 2014.06.24].

The only faint downside here: we never got to see the Trojan Tap fight off a copyright infringement suit from Church & Dwight.

Vicki and Ricky will start selling yummy, melty chocolate later in July. Bring a cooler.

But that's not all! Across the street, Madison über-Kapitalist Darin Namken and cronies Scott Delzer and Todd Knodel are gutting Rumors, a long-time anchor of Madison's fabled Four Corners. There will still be beer, but it will be snazzy beer:

The Pub House will serve craft beer, cocktails and full-service food options. It should be ready to open sometime this fall, but "it won't be Rumors anymore," Namken said.

They have opened the front areas of the 6,500-square-foot building so that it will now seat about 120 people. There will be a banquet room in the back for 50-60 people, Namken said.

The new establishment will be casual and fun, he said. "It will be a pretty neat atmosphere."

The kitchen will be mostly new, and they plan on putting in another walk-in cooler "strictly for tap beers," Namken said. They will carry microbrewed beer, but will not be making their own at this time [Utecht, 2014.06.24].

Casual, fun, with food worth showing off to visitors? That's plenty for me! And my wife tells me good beer is very Lutheran.

But wait! Won't such a great eatery and drinker cut into other Madison restaurants' market share? Heavens forfend, cries Namken:

He emphasizes that the purpose of the Pub House is not to compete with other establishments in town, but to provide a "new option" [Utecht, 2014.06.24].

Maybe an über-capitalist can explain how The Pub House offering casual dining and beer doesn't compete with the Stadium Sports Grill or Nicky's, which offer casual dining and beer.

Not that I mind—I hear competition is good for consumers and the economy. (Maybe a little competition will get Nicky's to pave its parking lot.) And hey, a decent place to eat and drink with a big meeting room downtown will boost Main Street... and it could even help make the business case for building a nice downtown hotel and convention center. (Heck of an idea, don't you think, Darin?)


  1. Becca Pivonka 2014.06.26

    I am very interested to see how the Pub House works out. Craft beer has overtaken mass-produced, watered down mega-beer companies (Anheuser-Busch, Miller, Coors, etc.). Here in Omaha, craft breweries and brew houses are popping up all the time, are always busy, and are now the place to go. This may actually tempt my husband to want to stay and eat in Madison, rather than heading back to Sioux Falls for dinner when we are visiting.
    College students will find it appealing too, I believe, as those growing up in larger cities are used to having craft beer readily available at almost any bar or restaurant they go in to.
    And my dad, being a good old-school Lutheran, will agree that good beer, especially craft beer, is a great joy. Probably why I have to bring back Nebraska Brewing Company (a Papillion, NE brewery) beer back with me almost every time I come home.
    Too bad we'll have to wait until fall - it would have been perfect for the all-school reunion in a month!

  2. Wayne Pauli 2014.06.26

    The fabled four corners has fallen into hard times. Great to see some new ideas to hopefully rejuvenate the area. I love chocolate with my beer...will Vicki deliver? Kudos to both groups.

  3. Jenny 2014.06.26

    Rumors - my old college bar is being torn down! I just hope the new place doesn't overcharge for the price of a beer. Remember - wages don't go up very often in SD.

  4. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.06.26

    Indy beer is like indy music—mass production beats the flavor out of everything.

  5. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.06.26

    Jenny, pubster Namken is part of the local power establishment. Now that he'll be counting on local customers, I'm sure he'll lobby for higher wages so his neighbors can come consume more of his beer and vittles.

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