Knoche’s, Oakcrest Tavern, international shop, enduring construction on Old Middleton Road | Business News

Old Middleton Road

Utility infrastructure components await installation Friday along Old Middleton Road across the street from the Oakcrest Tavern. A spring-to-fall road construction project is creating challenges for some businesses.

Several businesses on Madison’s West Side along Old Middleton Road are coping with reduced business amid a road construction project that started April 18 and won’t wrap up until the fall.

Ekaterina Pronina said business at her 13-year-old store International Food and Souvenirs, at 5317 Old Middleton Road, is off 30% to 40%.

“It’s affecting customers a lot because it’s become kind of difficult to get here and to get out of here,” said Pronina, who owns the store with her husband, Alexey Pronin. Both are originally from Russia.

“So, people have to do routes that they do not usually do. It’s not easy, not right now,” she said.

Old Middleton Road

An “open” sign at International Food and Souvenirs overlooks Old Middleton Road, where construction is making it difficult for customers to get to and leave the business. 

Pronina said some of her customers are unfazed by the construction, while others ask her every time how to get out of the construction zone. The traffic pattern and what side streets are open can change weekly, she said.

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Some of her regular customers have been stocking up during less frequent visits, Pronina said.

The construction is also affecting deliveries. A semitrailer that usually comes weekly, now comes once every two or three weeks.

‘A little slow’

Steve Knoche, who owns Knoche’s Old Fashioned Butcher Shop, a business his grandparents started in 1938, said he has been doing OK due to his large wholesale business.

Old Middleton Road

Stephanie Knoche, in the meat department of Knoche’s grocery and butcher shop.

His wife, Stephanie Knoche, said they deliver their meat to 65 bars and restaurants, which accounts for about 60% of their business. The other 40% is retail.

She said Knoche’s, 5372 Old Middleton Road, is one of the biggest ground beef wholesalers in the state, with its meat used by the Oakcrest Tavern across the street, Vintage Brewing, Badger Tavern, the Laurel Tavern, the Riley Tavern, Jordan’s Big 10 Pub and Sconnie Bar. Smoky’s Club, before it closed, used to be one of its biggest accounts.

The shop is so busy providing meat to bars and restaurants, it’s had to turn new wholesale business down, she said.

Old Middleton Road

Knoche’s delivery driver Anas Houman, foreground, and owner Steve Knoche load a truck Friday outside the business.

“We run two trucks, and I guess the other challenge we have is, like everybody else, not having enough help,” Stephanie Knoche said.

Retail customers though, are having a hard time getting to the shop, she said. “We’ve noticed the last couple days it’s been a little slow, but that might not just have to do with the road. It’s summer, you know.”

End in sight

Christy Bachmann, city principal engineer, said the estimated completion date for work on the western portion of Old Middleton Road between Capital Avenue and Rosa Road is Sept. 1. Work on the eastern portion of the road between Rosa Road and North Eau Claire Avenue is set to run until Oct. 28.

Old Middleton Road

A reconstruction effort on Old Middleton Road continues past Knoche’s Old Fashioned Butcher Shop. Steve Knoche, who owns the business his grandparents started in 1938, said he has been doing OK due to his large wholesale business.

The project is addressing poor pavement condition and needed utility upgrades including sanitary sewer and storm sewer, Bachmann said.

“Hopefully they’re done by Christmas,” said Chip Cantwell, co-owner of the Oakcrest Tavern, 5371 Old Middleton Road, laughing.

Cantwell, who owns the bar, popular for its burgers and fish fry, with Matt Grinvalsky, calls Old Middleton Road a maze to drive down, but said his business is only down about 5%. “It’s not bad at all.”

Old Middleton Road

A table overlooking Old Middleton Road stands ready for patrons Friday at the Oakcrest Tavern. Co-owner Chip Cantwell says the road is a maze to drive down, but his business is only down about 5%. “Hopefully they’re done by Christmas,” he said, laughing.

He said his business hasn’t suffered too much because the busiest times on the road are when people go to work in the morning and the evening rush hour around 5 p.m.

Cantwell warns that the now one-way drive down the street can be more of a problem for clean cars.

“It’s something where you probably don’t want to wash your car before you come down our street, because it’s going to get real dirty,” he said.

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