A Scoop off the Old Block
Next Generation of Taylors take roles in restaurants

By KATHERINE MICHALETS - Freeman Staff

April 25, 2015

Jim and Susie Taylor with, from left, nephew Grant Poenitsch, sons Jimmy and Zach Taylor and nephew Elliot Poenitsch at Oscar’s in the Town of Brookfield.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff


TOWN OF BROOKFIELD — With five family members of the next generation having their eyes set on running and expanding Oscar’s, owners Jim and Susie Taylor are opening a third location in Franklin.

Working at the Town of Brookfield location Friday afternoon were Zach and Jimmy Taylor and their cousin Grant Poenitsch. Elliott Poenitsch took a break from working at Taylor’s People’s Park in downtown Waukesha for a visit with the family Friday.

This past week, Jim and Susie Taylor, who met and fell in love at Oscar’s on Highway 100, got approval for a 21-foot, light-up custard cone sign in front of the Town of Brookfield location on Highway 18. They plan the same eye-catching sign for the Highway 100 restaurant and future Franklin location at 27th and Rawson.


Falling in love over ice cream

Sixteen-year-old Susie was one of the first employees at Oscar’s on Highway 100 when it opened July 2, 1984. Her bosses were Jim Taylor and his uncle, Charlie Randa, who had just launched the business.

It wasn’t until a few years later that Jim and Susie went on a date to get tacos and proceeded to grow the business as a married couple.

The Town of Brookfield location was opened in 1992. A few years later, Jim and his brother Dan decided to open Milwaukee’s first bar with open seating at 795 N. Jefferson St. This summer the business, called Taylor’s, will celebrate its 20th anniversary on Aug. 15 and close the street for a party.

“Our mind is always going for new ideas,” Susie Taylor said.

Jim and Susie Taylor recently received approval for a 21-foot, light-up custard cone sign in front of the Town of Brookfield Oscar’s location on Highway 18. They plan the same eye-catching sign for the Highway 100 restaurant and future Franklin location at 27th and Rawson.
Rendering courtesy of SignEffectz, Inc.

Five restaurants with different atmospheres

While People’s Park and Taylor’s may differ significantly in their business models from Oscar’s, Susie Taylor said they all have a unique type of artwork or decor. A mural of vintage knick-knacks and painted artwork adorns the walls of People’s Park, while at Oscar’s in the Town of Brookfield, silhouettes of the family done by Jim’s brother, Richard, hang on the wall. The Franklin Oscar’s will have a model railroad set up in the center of the restaurant.


A family member at every restaurant

Susie Taylor remembers in the early days of the business working with her mom and later her mother-inlaw Rosie behind the counter. Rosie still helps with the business’s books.

“I think people enjoy seeing one of the family members,” Susie Taylor said.

Knowing there is another generation of family who wants to run the restaurants, Jim said it means there’s potential to retire.

“They know it’s hard work, too, and there’s never a real day off,” Susie Taylor said, adding that if someone doesn’t show up to work it’s the owners who fill in.

Jimmy Taylor, who is studying entrepreneurship at the University of Wisconsin–Whitewater, said he started helping out at Oscar’s when he was 14, although it was a part of his life before then.

“I was brought up around custard; I fell in love with it,” he said.

After spending more than 31 years working in and running restaurants, Susie Taylor said she’s gotten to watch customers grow up, as well as employees. Some have gone on to other jobs but will stop back for a visit, while some have been with the Taylors for more than 20 years.

“You really see a progression of people in their lives,” she said.


Expansion

Jim Taylor said expanding into Franklin was a logical choice because of the growth occurring near 27th Street and Rawson Avenue. He added that it’s really because of the his children and nephews that they are growing the business.

“It’s especially because our kids said they wanted to do this,” Susie Taylor said.

The new location should be open by the beginning of June.

Also, Jim Taylor said business has been busier than ever the past four years. He contributes the increased sales to the longevity of the restaurants, quality food and service.

“One day I think my cousins, brother and I will make more Oscar’s,” Jimmy Taylor said.

As a graduate of UW-Whitewater, Grant Poenitsch said it’s fun to work with family and to apply the leadership skills he learned in college and while playing football.

“There’s never a dull moment,” he said of working in the family business. In fact, Poenitsch said he and his cousins and brothers are able to communicate without even speaking because they are so familiar with each other.

Although he would also like to grow the business, Poenitsch said he is focused on doing the best job now.


Hands-on approach

Despite being in the position to hand over more responsibilities to employees, Jim and Susie Taylor still take a hands-on approach to the restaurants. Susie recently created two new custard flavors — Funky Monkey and Mutter Butter. The favorites remain Mint Chip, Butter Pecan, Strawberry and Rocky Road, she said.

Thursday night, Jim worked in the bar and planned to do so again Friday night.

In order to maintain the success, Jim Taylor said it’s important to treat the employees well.

The Taylors have also given back to the community from sponsoring the jerseys for the Waukesha police versus firemen basketball game Friday to helping to organize Friday Night Live this summer.

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