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Friday News Drop: Closings, MPS’ future and warm feelings

Three side-by-side photos show a sign advertising a high school enrollment fair, the wooden front door of a bar surrounded by brick and a smart thermostat set to 62 degrees.
MPS / Flannery's / Facebook

Milwaukee’s a big city with a lot going on. Catch up before spending your weekend either purposely or accidentally ignoring the news.

Flannery’s, Wahlburgers close

The end of the week brought us this study in closing contrasts: a staple of Milwaukee nightlife owned, managed and staffed by people who had been there for most of its existence; and a burger restaurant started by a celebrity family and owned by a grocery chain.

The former, Flannery’s, opened on Cathedral Square in September 1997, when owner Steve Smith combined O'Connor's and Chappie's Pub. For the past 25 years, the watering hole gave bargoers the liquid encouragement they needed to walk next door and get that bowl of Real Chili they really didn’t need. They’ll keep doing it for another week or so, with a Happy Hour Thank You Party slated for Jan. 25 and a final last call Sunday, Jan. 29.

The other closing, Wahlburgers in the Third Ward, ends almost exactly three years in business for the chain restaurant that has another location at the Corners of Brookfield. The one in the Third Ward was owned by supermarket company Hy-Vee, whose spokesperson told the Journal Sentinel, “we are evolving our strategy when it comes to this particular Wahlburgers restaurant location.” That strategy included closing it down immediately, so no thank-you party here.

MPS wants to hear from you

Schools make a big impact on their communities, which is why Milwaukee Public Schools goes beyond students and staff to collect input as it maps its future. Right now, families, residents and other community members can have their say by taking a survey that will help MPS set its priorities and performance targets for the next five years. According to a release from MPS, you’ll be able to weigh in on:

  • Topics and skills students need to be successful
  • Which MPS services are most important to the community
  • The impact neighborhood schools have on their geographic area
  • What the district can do to improve

“We are working on a Strategic Plan that supports MPS' Five Priorities for Success," MPS Superintendent Dr. Keith P. Posley said. "Whether you are a Milwaukee resident, community partner, MPS family, student, or staff member, your participation in the survey is important in educating all our current and future students.”

Teamwork helped keep the heat on

It’s always nice to end on a positive note, and I found one in a really thorough breakdown Journal Sentinel business reporter Karl Ebert put together about the message many of us got from We Energies the night of Dec. 23, asking us to turn down our thermostats.

In short, the company that supplies We Energies with natural gas cut its output by 30% because of “unplanned maintenance.” We Energies turned to its playbook that included asking major users to dial things down, tap into reserves and then ask residents for help. As Ebert wrote in the article, “Customer reactions ranged from compliance to criticism” — of course — “but enough customers turned down their heat to get We Energies through the night.”

Great job, everyone! Also, great article by Ebert. If you’re a JS subscriber, give it a read. And enjoy your weekend.