of the Milwaukee area’s newest fans are not just here for the beer.
They’re finding that genuine Milwaukee cuisine goes beyond brats,
that summers here come wrapped in every shade of green and its people
are warm even if its winters are glacial.
Ed and Caren Breslau, owners of Local Motion Outfitters in
Cedarburg, found many new friends when they moved to Brown Deer in
"I think people here are real; they’re very trusting and
very friendly," Caren Breslau says. "They definitely made us
Caren Breslau was born and raised in California; Ed Breslau has
lived around the country. He was born in Baltimore, worked for the
Marriott Corp. in Orlando and just outside Yosemite National Park in
When Ed Breslau took a job in Colorado Springs, the couple expected
to stay there forever. But a year later, an irresistible job offer
brought them to Wisconsin. When he was laid off from that job, along
with four others from out-of-state, he watched his co-workers go back
"We decided we loved it here," he says. So the Breslaus
began putting down roots and opened their shop in December 2008.
The couple found they could simply do more things in this area
compared to California, "because California was too expensive or
the traffic would take all day," Ed Breslau says. "So we
just fell in love with that aspect right away. And we really like the
people here and the fiber behind it all. We’ve met a lot of neat
The Breslaus have embraced their new home by getting involved in
the community. Ed Breslau is active in the Cedarburg Merchants
Association, the Festivals Committee and a group that organizes a bike
race through town.
At Local Motion Outfitters, he exchanges children’s bike
trade-ins for a 25 percent discount on new bikes. He refurbishes the
trade-ins and donates them to the Boys & Girls Club.
"And we work pretty closely with Parks and Rec," he says,
because the shop’s sales and rental business includes bikes, kayaks,
canoes, snowshoes and cross-country skis, as well as organizing trips.
Caren Breslau, who has a teaching background, works at the
Milwaukee Boys & Girls Club in its SPARK (Spheres of Proud
Achievement in Reading for Kids) early literacy program for children
in Milwaukee Public Schools.
"I feel so blessed just being a part of it," she says.
Although her family in California thinks everyone in Wisconsin
spends their time milking cows, she says she finds plenty to do here.
"We go to concerts and the theater and all the
festivals," she says. "We love all the greenery, and we love
the four seasons."
Caren Breslau’s daughter, 16-year-old Austen, will be a senior at
Brown Deer High School this fall. Austen has been surprised at how
much she likes living in Wisconsin, she says.
"She didn’t want to like it in the beginning, but it was
easy for her to make friends," Caren Breslau explains. "And
she feels her friends are friends she’ll have for a long time."
Growing up in Tokyo, award-winning children’s book illustrator
Sachiko Yoshikawa knew Milwaukee was famous for its brew by watching
Sapporo beer commercials on TV. When her husband, Wayne Blackwelder,
accepted the position of clerk of court for the Eastern District of
Wisconsin Bankruptcy Court last year, she expected Wisconsin to be a
mountainous region like the landscape they were leaving in Seattle.
She was pleasantly surprised: "I really enjoy driving the
straight country roads with the open fields in front of me. I was
telling all my friends, if you want to experience the real America
that you see in the movies, come to Milwaukee."
Living in an East Side condo, the couple and their 5-year-old
daughter, Kinu, have been splashing around area pools, treating
themselves to Pizza Man pizza and bicycling along the lakefront.
Kinu was enchanted by her first snowfall last winter, and the
family discovered the joy of making angels in the snow.
Blackwelder and Yoshikawa enjoy dining out in Third Ward hot spots
and exploring the neighborhood’s unique shops.
"And we’ve been to all the Japanese restaurants in
town," Blackwelder says.
Born in South Bend, Blackwelder grew up in Nashville and went to
college in Tampa. He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Liberia,
Colombia and Uganda and comes to Milwaukee by way of California,
Oregon and Washington.
When Blackwelderwas considering the job in Milwaukee, he consulted
two Peace Corps co-workers who had lived here about what to expect.
One characterized the city as "gritty," the other simply
said it was "great."
"I was expecting kind of the grit," Blackwelder says.
A Realtor took the family on a tour of Milwaukee’s hip spots near
UW-Milwaukee and Lake Michigan, "which we thought was an
ocean," Wayne adds.
Milwaukee’s architectural gems left an impression on the couple,
particularly Santiago Calatrava’s Burke Brise Soleil at the art
museum and the meticulously restored Federal Courthouse.
Blackwelder’s colleagues at the courthouse made sure the family
received a warm welcome when they arrived in the city. A series of
parties helped "introduce us to the community, and that’s never
happened to me before," Blackwelder says.
"That was almost tear-dropping," Yoshikawa says,
"the thoughtful welcome, the words and gestures. That was the
first time I experienced it in the States."
With two Ph.D.s in the family, the job market spans the country,
says sociologist Melanie Hinojosa. The trick for Hinojosa and her
husband, Ramon, was finding great jobs in the same city. They found
that fit in Milwaukee.
The Hinojosas, who live in Wauwatosa, moved here two years ago when
Ramon Hinojosa accepted a position as sociology professor at Marquette
University and Melanie Hinojosa joined the Family and Community
Medicine Department at the Medical College of Wisconsin as assistant
professor in sociology and statistics.
Melanie Hinojosa has lived in West Virginia, Florida and Chicago
and had referred to Milwaukee as "Chicago Lite" before
moving here two years ago. Milwaukee has "very, very little
traffic," she explains. "You get the culture and you get the
lake, but you don’t have so many people."
When they were considering a move here, they visited the city to
see what it was like.
"We came in December and people drove us around," she
recalls. "They would say, ‘There’s a park here and there’s
a park there.’" All the parks were buried under mounds of snow.
They have since frequented many of the area’s parks with their
daughter, 2-year-old Eva. Daughter Alexandra was born in May.
"We found that we’re within walking distance of the Oak Leaf
Trail and three blocks away from a nice playground for our kids,"
she says. "We were very pleased when we found, under the snow,
all of these parks."
The family makes good use of the green space, for jogging, relaxing
and taking in the many concerts in neighborhood parks scheduled
throughout the summer. They’re also enjoying the area’s museums,
the lakefront and Milwaukee’s line-up of festivals. So far, they’ve
made it to Summerfest, Festa Italiana and last year’s
Harley-Davidson birthday bash.
The Hinojosas say they like the convenience of living in Wauwatosa,
especially when they get hungry. They can walk to Simma’s Bakery for
morning buns, and one of their favorite restaurants, Balistreri’s,
is right around the corner from their home.
Just for fun, she says, "We kind of have a band. We made good
friends with neighbors who are guitar enthusiasts."
There’s maybe one thing they would change about Milwaukee,
"We don’t like the winter, I’ve got to be honest,"
she says. "But we’re trying to get used to it. We’re trying
to find things we can do outdoors that are related to snow. Maybe we’ll
try skiing this year."
Now, at least, they know there’s something beautiful under all
that snow. M