Elected officials make a lot of sacrifices in serving the public, but Ald. Marsha Rummel could not have predicted it would come to this.
"Do not return to New Orleans Take-Out," owner John Roussos emailed Rummel on March 9. "You will be told to leave. If you do not comply the MPD will be called."
The east-side alderwoman reminded Roussos, who shared his email exchange with Isthmus, that she has been a regular customer of his for almost 25 years. She asked, "Are you banning all the other alders who voted to support the improvements on N. Sherman or only me?"
"You are the only alder who patronized NOTO," responded Roussos, who operates the restaurant at 1920 Fordem Ave. "You have put me out of business."
The Madison Common Council on March 5 approved a plan to add bicycle lanes, pedestrian islands and a center left-turn lane to North Sherman Avenue, turning it from a four-lane street to two lanes. Biking and pedestrian activists were thrilled to see this 20-year dream come to fruition, but the Northside Business Association argued that removing traffic lanes would cause traffic jams and drive customers away.
Roussos declined to be interviewed, noting how emotional a topic it was for him. But he sent several emails, charging that the Sherman Avenue plan was one more example of the city doing "everything that it could do to depress the north side."
Roussos says that he is in the process of transferring ownership of the Fordem Avenue restaurant to a longtime employee but that they are now looking at locations outside of Madison. The restaurant is technically in the town of Madison, and he says administrators there, unlike those in the city, have made it "easy to do business."
Rummel, for her part, says she's sad to be banned from Roussos' restaurant. "I enjoyed going there. It was really good food."
[Editor's note: This article was changed to reflect that Roussos does not own the New Orleans Take Out on Monroe Street.]