The recent announcements of new big box retailers in Oshkosh is fueling another round of "What businesses would you like to see come to town?" polls again. I have to admit, I wasn't that enthused with the plan to build a Sam's Club at the site of the former WalMart. I'm a Costco member and would rather they had built here. Fortunately, Costco has decided to locate in Grand Chute--which isn't that far away. Dick's Sporting Goods gets me more excited--as we will have an outlet now for new, top-line golf equipment in Oshkosh. Unfortunately, Dick's fired all of its golf professionals last year--leaving me to wonder how good their fitting program is now. Plus, they don't sell Titleist clubs--so I'll still be going to Golf Galaxy in Grand Chute for my gear.
As for what do I want to see "come to Oshkosh"? My list would include very few big boxes and chains--and more Mom and Pop type places. Number one on my list would be a "real" BBQ joint. I'm talking about the kind of place that you see Down South or in Texas--kind of a ramshackle place that always has smoke coming from out in the back where the pit is located. The kind of place that has cooks working all night smoking brisket and pork shoulder and sausages. And the kind of place that will close when they run out of food for that day--instead of having stuff in the freezer ready for re-heating at anytime. Places like THAT are the best eating you will ever do in your life.
I'd also like to have a burger place like Kroll's West or Mihm's. You know, that charcoal grills the patties, uses toasted Sheboygan Hard Rolls and then smothers the whole thing with about half a stick of butter. We have a couple places that make good burgers now--but nothing like those other two. Toss in a lunch counter and hand-dipped milkshakes and you've got a winner.
Speaking of toasted Sheboygan Hard Rolls, Oshkosh should have a Manderfield's bakery as well. Ski's Market downtown carries a limited supply of Manderfield's products--but not their outstanding donuts and desserts. Failing that, we could always get a Dunkin' Donuts or maybe a Tim Horton's. If you've ever been to a Timmy's in Canada--you know what I'm talking about.
And one final food suggestion, how about an Oshkosh location for Chili John's? If you've ever been to the one restaurant on the west side of Green Bay, you would agree with me. There's nothing like a Super Bowl of Super Hot to warm you up on a -15-degree day. By the way, you know what makes it so good? Beef suet--and a little bit of chocolate that is supposedly added as well.
Finally, Oshkosh needs a golf dome. One of those buildings that looks like a minature Metrodome with the air-supported roof. Someplace for golfers to hit ball during the six months of the year that it is too cold to play outside. They had one that was doing well in Green Bay about 15-years ago--but then the owner took a big payout from Home Depot to sell the land for a big box store. That would actually be a business magnet--as we golfers will travel a pretty good distance to get in a few swings at this time of year. The biggest challenge is what do you do with it during the six months of the year everyone can play outside?
So there you go entrepreneurs, your list of sure-fire business winners in Oshkosh. Now go out and make that happen (preferably without asking for TIF district financing).