Make it Milwaukee

Mark Thomas offers more than a good brew

Mention the city of Milwaukee and thoughts often turn to beer. But there’s more flowing in this Midwestern metropolis than just suds. The largest city in Wisconsin, Milwaukee is a major element of the state’s economic, political, and social fabric. According to Mark Thomas, senior vice president of circulation for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the city’s cultural persona — from museums to sporting events — help define it. “Leisure pursuits are one of the things we like to talk about here,” he says. “Our park system is highly rated. We even have a PGA tournament played at a public course.”

Although the city’s traditional industrial base has been declining for decades, the Metro Milwaukee Association of Commerce reports that more than 50 Fortune 1000 companies have major operations here, including Briggs & Stratton, Harley-Davidson Inc., Rockwell Automation, as well as the legendary Miller Brewing Co. The city is also a place where Thomas says striving African Americans can make a real impact on the business and community scenes. Groups like The Leaders Forum (of which Thomas is board president) help promote recruitment and retention of black professionals in the region through events such as the “Catfish Club Forum” luncheon series, held quarterly. Here, Thomas shares a glimpse of this city on the lake.

AROUND TOWN : MILWAUKEE
ACCOMMODATIONS

  • “Many dignitaries and [U.S.] presidents” have stayed at the AAA Four Diamond Award-winning Pfister Hotel (424 E. Wisconsin Ave.; 414-273-8222) near the heart of Milwaukee’s financial district. “The service is impeccable,”says Thomas.
  • The centrally located Hyatt Regency Milwaukee (333 W. Kilbourn Ave.; 414-276-1234) is “connected to the Skywalk, which you can take to The Shops of Grand Avenue.”
  • The Paradise Landing Indoor WaterPark, with its 31-person hydrotherapy spa, helps define the Hilton Milwaukee City Center (509 W. Wisconsin Ave.; 414-271-7250). Its top-notch dining, elegantly restored 1920s-era grandeur, and first-class service earn raves from business travelers.

RESTAURANTS

  • For a great steak; attentive service; and people watching, from local dignitaries to sports celebs, go to Mo’s — A Place for Steaks (720 N. Plankinton Ave.; 414-272-0720). “That’s where I would go to close a deal or celebrate closing a deal.”
  • Coast (931 E. Wisconsin Ave.; 414-727-5555) boasts great American cuisine and a to-die-for location on Lake Michigan, says Thomas of the eatery, housed right near the Milwaukee Art Museum’s famed Burke brise-soleil sun screen. “You’re going to get a nice meal, but at the same time, you’re getting a beautiful view of the lakefront.”
  • For down-home appeal, nothing’s better than the soul food at Mr. Perkins’ Family Restaurant (2001 W. Atkinson Ave.; 414-447-6660), just five miles from downtown. “You can’t beat the chicken-fried steak and collard greens.”

NIGHTSPOTS

  • ARJ’s Blues & Jazz Club (3120 W. Villard Ave.; 414-616-7660) is one of Milwaukee’s best venues for jazz. The occasional “steppers and boppers” lessons cater to a sophisticated 30 and older set.
  • Blu (424 E. Wisconsin Ave.; 414-273-8222) is a chic venue on the 23rd floor of the Pfister Hotel with live contemporary jazz on Fridays and Saturdays. “You get to see the panoramic view of downtown and the lakefront,” says Thomas.
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