I was flipping through good ol' Isthmus and saw an ad that caught my attention. It was for Monona Bait and Ice Cream, the little red shop located on Lake Monona.
Worms and chocolate fudge don't usually find themselves together, but the fact that this place was utilizing its plot of land for a dual purpose deserves mad props. If I could pat this store on the back, I would. A love tap to the shingles would suffice.
I went there with a friend, who told me as I parked, "If there isn't jailbait, I'm not interested." Immediately, I made two observations in the parking lot: There are a lot of bug clouds there, and I hang out with a lot of sketchy characters.
The interior of Monona Bait and Ice Cream was quaint and homey, like those little cottages in Northern Michigan where I used to spend summers. A bajillion elementary school boys in white and blue jerseys sat at tables, like a gang from Sol Yurick's The Warriors, plotting their next moves as vanilla ice cream dripped down their wrists.
As kids squirmed in their seats, something else squirmed in the cases at the back of the store. I have to admit, I was hoping to get way more squeamish at this place, but really, the hook and lure on the wall seemed normal next to a rack of candy.
Are other local combination retailers this charming?
The movie Secretary became my favorite as soon as it came out, and one of my favorite settings is the combination laundromat/restaurant where Maggie Gyllenhaal's character is romanced. I'd love it too if I was wooed over a cheeseburger while folding my whites.
Turns out this is entirely possible at Laundry 101. This place begs to be put in a music video -- the industrial appliances and seating; the crayon box colors; the foosball table; the air hockey rink; the chit-chattering group of girls; the ho-hum geek studying and clutching his Tide bottle; the faint smell of beer and fabric softener; the fresh-faced cashier chick chewing gum in time with the Brit-punk.
When I was living in Cambridge, Mass., I did my laundry in a shifty cleaners with four washers and dryers from the early 1940s. Once, a woman came in with two toddlers and a baby -- and left with none of them, making me the babysitter for an hour. "Hey Lady! What's yer name, Lady?" this little boy kept asking me. If we could have played air hockey or even danced a bit, I not still suffer from back problems from serving as their human jungle gym. Ain't nobody dope as Laundry 101.
A gas station and a restaurant combined. I've heard this tune before, sort of. Back east, there is a pizza place located in the back of a Shell station that has recently blown up (no, not in that way). There are more Primo Pizza delivery cars than there are SUVs, and that's freaking impressive. But I was always leery of eating something whose greasy sheen could be either pepperoni- or petroleum-derived.
I was really itching to get to Black Lotus to see if I could really dine in a place made for truckers, but after watching Joy Ride, I have decided to hold off until I perfect my aikido skills.
How many enivro-ninjas have infiltrated the system and stuck it to the man with their multitasking establishments? Harley's Bait and Liquor has pulled it off. So has Athens Gyros. Smut 'n' Eggs once did, too. Does Madison have a power-tool shop and nail salon? Or maybe a brat and psychiatrist stand for all those post-drinking needs? My search continues.