I have an offer for the owners of Twisted Fork

Twisted Fork is closing; I've got an idea for the new place.

Carol Deptolla of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is reporting that Twisted Fork, the restaurant on the corner of North, Farwell and Ivanhoe, will be closing down Sunday night and will re-open in October as a sports bar.

Personally, I loved the place.  They were expensive so I didn’t eat there often (how could I with the BBQ chicken sandwich across the street at Hooligan’s) but I loved the Ribeye, Cheese and Artichoke Dip, Shrimp Puttanesca and above all else, the Ivanhoe burger.  Tell me that cheese and artichoke dip, swiss cheese and bacon on top of a burger doesn’t make your mouth water, and you’re either lying or a vegetarian.  Or a vegan, whatever that is.

However, for one reason or another the format did not work for the owners, and news began sprinkling out that they were looking for a change.  It makes sense; the eclectic, moderately expensive yuppie restaurant/bar thing, as much as it works for the UWM community, is far too prevalent.  Oakland Trattoria, Harry’s, Henry’s, Cafe Hollander, and those are just a few on campus and I haven’t even approached North Avenue yet.  When you include the two main streets of the East Side, North and Brady, you’ve got a fairly long list of restaurants that serve the same purpose as the Twisted Fork.  Most of them are also easier on the wallet, which I’m sure isn’t a small reason for the failure of a wonderful restaurant with a fantastic menu.

Replay could look something like this. When I'm done with it, it'll also be Black and Gold.

Switching to a Sports Bar format is a great idea; while there are many sports fans on the East Side, there aren’t many places that are sports specific restaurants.  North Avenue is the favorite hangout of my group of friends, despite the fact that we live in West Allis, Bay View, St. Francis and Wauwatosa; it’s the college-aged community together on a strip, and the new Replay Sports Bar will fit very well with Hooligan’s, Landmark Lanes and the BBC.

The thing is, none of those places really screams UWM, and this is a place where I think Replay can gain an advantage – or any of the establishments down around North Avenue.  The fact of the matter is that with the Kenilworth Building, Riverview and Cambridge Commons, not only is North Avenue very much a part of UWM’s neighborhood, but by and large it can now be considered campus, like State Street is in Madison.  In fact, one might argue that North Avenue is our State Street.  Food establishments dot the way, but there’s not really a place that screams “Milwaukee Panthers” and really stakes claim to the university like State Street Brats and other places do with the Badgers.

A couple years ago, some students walked into the George Webb’s on Farwell across from Pizza Shuttle and found themselves pleasantly surprised to be looking at a wall of UWM; Ricky Franklin and Kaylan Anderson jerseys hung from the wall, other UWM-centric stuff was dotted around the place; however, it wasn’t really the place for it.  Like Ma Fisher’s, a 24-hour diner is not really the U-Rah-Rah place for that kind of stuff.  Replay Sports Bar most definitely is.

That is why I am offering a simple, no strings attached free service to the new Replay Sports Bar:

Me!

Look at my face. I'm dead serious, Replay.

I, Jimmy Lemke, will personally help you decorate the place with Milwaukee Panthers memorabilia.  I don’t just mean a jersey or two, like the Gasthaus.  I mean full-on Black and Gold, Milwaukee Panthers dream world.  Free of charge.

Of course, I can’t do it alone.  I don’t have nearly the amount of stuff to hand over to Replay to make it Panther Heaven.  I’ll be looking for help from Milwaukee Athletics, that has a ton of unused t-shirts and memorabilia sitting in cages at the Klotsche Center, as well as dozens of those awesome “Milwaukee” flags that were given out to season-ticket holders last season.  I won’t make the Athletic Department take the stuff over there, I’ll do that.  But there are a lot of walls over at the new Replay, and they all need some Panther flavor.

If I am to do this service for Replay Sports Bar, I only ask for a few concessions from the establishment:

Pounce owns Bucky

Fun with Microsoft Paint

No Marquette or Wisconsin influence of any kind. One of the things I hate most about driving down Locust is seeing the Marquette and Wisconsin logos on Tracks Tavern flags at the corner of Locust and Humboldt.  It boils my blood to know that this sports bar is all about two schools that have nothing to do with the neighborhood, yet there’s a perfectly good Division I university that operates just over the river.  I still have not stepped inside Tracks for this very reason; you might call it overreacting, I call it having respect for myself and the school I come from.  A lot of Tracks’ business comes from UWM students and alumni, and while most don’t embrace athletics unless we’re in the basketball tournament, they are still part of the UWM community.  The same garbage used to happen with the Gasthaus.  I used my influence as Sports Editor at the UWM Post several years ago to put an end to Gasthaus advertisements pumping up the Badger games on Saturdays.  This shit needs to end if UWM is ever going to have the hold over its community the way similar schools like Southern Illinois, Wichita State and Northern Iowa have over their people.  SIU Salukis don’t give two shits about the Illini.  Wichita State people laughed when the Kansas Jayhawks lost to UNI.  The UNI “Panther Nation” takes any chance it can to belittle the Iowa Hawkeyes and Iowa State Cyclones.  If UWM is to move forward, there has to be a culture change at the school and in the neighborhood, that what we have is good enough to get behind, and while we want to be better, being in a high-major conference is not requisite for having a devoted fan base.  Call me crazy, but I think it starts with Replay Sports Bar.  If they follow through on this, and refuse to be a Badger satellite, then places like this will snowball; one day down the road, when the Milwaukee Panthers fan base is large, Replay Sports Bar can claim to be the place that started it all.  They embraced it first, willed themselves into supporting the Milwaukee Panthers as the one and only college sports team for Replay Sports Bar, and that fan base will love the establishment for it.  The original Panther party zone.  No one has staked claim to it; it’s a title that is up for grabs.  Just because there’s no college football team in Milwaukee doesn’t mean they’ll lose business by not promoting Badger games either; being the Panther dream world says nothing about turning off the T.V. for Packer or Brewer games, or Bucks for that matter.  Just tell Bucky to screw off, he gets the same amount of T.V.’s as the Ohio State and Florida games.  I won’t hold them to the last part, but I would prefer that they don’t go out of their way to promote Badger games.

Replay needs Time Warner Cable for one reason: TWS 32

Time Warner Cable is a must. The NFL Network is on TWC now, as is Versus and all of the other stations that a Sports Bar needs like the MLB Network and *sigh* Big Ten Network.  You can get NFL Sunday Ticket, ESPN Full Court and ESPN Gameplan through the service as well, but the absolute reason that Replay Sports Bar needs Time Warner Cable is for one channel: 32.  Is it high-definition?  No.  But Time Warner Sports 32 is all local sports, all the time, and that’s what people are interested in.  The main reason, however, is that TWS32 airs Milwaukee Panthers sporting events, and my condition is that every live Panther game and most replays find their way onto a television at the Replay Sports Bar.  For live basketball games, most of their television sets should have the game locked down.  We want it so not only are Panther fans welcome, but they are catered to; there is no place where we are catered to, except for Harry’s.  But Harry’s isn’t a sports bar, it’s a high-class restaurant where you can’t get too loud because there are couples out for a nice dinner.

– A little nod to the website that decked the place out. After all, I’m not asking for payment.  I just want PantherU.com in some way mentioned in the place.  Personally, my hope is for a small, framed sheet of paper that says something simple, like “Replay Sports Bar beautified by PantherU.com.”  I don’t need anything super special, just a tip of the cap by the front door.

I wasn’t kidding when I said that I thought Replay could be the beginning of something special.  The culture here needs to change.  How do Tone Boyle and other Panther basketball players feel when they walk up Maryland to classes and see several Wisconsin flags hanging on balconies?  It’s an absolute joke.  Those aren’t UW alumni that live in those houses, they are students at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee that have no respect for themselves and their alma mater.  There is no outlet for Milwaukee students and alumni to be Panthers; even the Gasthaus, which operates inside the UWM Union, serves Badger football fans more than the people in its own community.  It’s a crock of shit and frankly, I’ve had enough of that crap.  Replay Sports Bar can be the outlet for many Panther fans who have not had the place that not only welcomes them but outright embraces and caters to them.  I want to have that place, not only for myself but for all the other Panther fans who have to request their neighborhood sports bar to change the channel to the Panther game and get looked at quizzically by people around them.  This can be our place, and I know that I’m not the only one; two months away from the season, there are anywhere between 200 and 500 unique readers per day of PantherU, depending on whether I put out new posts or not.  I haven’t done a single thing to advertise besides post on the fan board, start a Facebook page and a Twitter account.  There are many people who are crazy about Milwaukee Athletics, and they need an outlet.  I think that Replay Sports Bar is that place, and I’m willing to volunteer my own personal time to make it that place.

I’ll even sweeten the pot a little bit.  If they allow me to go all out Black and Gold on the Replay Sports Bar with Panther memorabilia up the wazoo, I’ll go out of my way to push for at least one Rob Jeter Radio Show to take place inside Replay Sports Bar this upcoming season.

The ball is in your court, Replay Sports Bar.  You want my help?  All you need to do is ask.  jimmylemke@gmail.com.

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