Madison restaurateur Chris Berge, reached in Bend, Oregon where he's attending the National Cyclocross Nationals, confirms that the Restaurant Magnus space is for lease and that plans for Velo Bahn, his bike-centric gastropub-style restaurant, have been scotched.
"When we lost the train station, there was no way to keep it alive," says Berge, referring to the intention of Governor-elect Scott Walker to halt plans for a high-speed rail line between Madison and Milwaukee, whose station would have been located directly across Wilson Street from the Magnus/Velo Bahn space.
Bike scenesters would have supported the planned restaurant only in part, says Berge; train travelers would have provided about half the business. And the menu was "planned with that in mind," says Berge, with thought to people arriving "day and night."
So Berge would rather take his lumps now rather than risking a bigger loss later, he says.
Right now, Berge is focusing personally on bike racing and Telemark skiing, and continuing planning for his projected ride-or-walk-in-only restaurant on the southwest bike path. With Magnus closed, he notes, "that frees up 35-40 hours a week." Restaurant Magnus is set to serve its last meals on Dec. 31, 2010.