Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Ruby Owl on Main Street

Oshkosh has four “Class B” liquor licenses currently available. Six parties are vying for them. There’s one contender in the pack worth keeping an eye on. McKnight & Carlson, the owner of Gardina's Wine Bar & Cafe, is seeking one of the open licenses. If they obtain it, we’ll see another substantial boost to the craft-beer scene in downtown Oshkosh.

The McKnight & Carlson plan is to put a new restaurant into the space at 421 N. Main St., formerly occupied by Soirée Urban Gifts. Gardina’s, meanwhile, would remain just as it is; this would be a separate entity with an identity of its own.

According to Julie Wolk and Adam Carlson of McKnight & Carlson and Gardina’s, the tentative name for the planned restaurant is The Ruby Owl. In addition to the restaurant would be a full bar with an extensive selection of craft beer.

Nothing has been finalized, but if the plan comes to fruition this spot may feature the largest selection of craft beer on draught in Oshkosh. At the moment, the entire project is contingent upon the granting of that license. The McKnight & Carlson group will present its case at the next Common Council meeting Tuesday, January 27.

City Manager Mark Rohloff said last September that the council was interested in hearing from applicants offering projects that would help drive community development. The McKnight & Carlson plan certainly fits that criteria. Should it go through, it would be a significant step forward in the renewal of downtown.

About the building: The drawing that accompanies this post is from Harney's City Directory of Oshkosh, 1876. The illustration shows the building at 421 N. Main as it appeared shortly after its construction in 1875. It was a part of the rebuilding of downtown Oshkosh that took place after the ruinous fire of July 1874.

The original owner was George Mayer, a jeweler (hence the ruby of Ruby Owl) and watch repairman who also sold musical instruments. Mayer was born in Germany in 1826 and came to Oshkosh in 1850. In 1884 he went bankrupt after having been swindled by his son, Max. Lotsa history in this place. It would be great to see it come back to life.

No comments:

Post a Comment