Pabst Farms area continues metamorphosis
Brennan’s to close Saturday; new developments on horizon

By Dave Fidlin - Special to the Enterprise

Sept. 21, 2017

 The Brennan’s at 1670 Old School House Road is closing Sept. 30. Signs show the building owner’s desire to make a sale.
Jake Meister/Enterprise Staff

OCONOMOWOC — A venerable specialty grocer with roots stretching back 75 years is about to leave a bustling retail area near Pabst Farms. But several other retailers are slated to take up residence nearby in the fourth quarter of this year.

The wheels are in motion for a new Firestone Complete Auto Care center, which was first announced in March. The business, to operate out of a 8,155-square-foot building, will be located at 1688 Old School House Road.

“The building is under construction and is close to complete,” Bob Duffy, director of the Oconomowoc Bureau of Economic Development, said. The namesake business in what has frequently been described as the Brennan’s Marketplace Plaza development is winding down operations.

An employee who answered the phone this week at Brennan’s Oconomowoc store said the location, 1670 Old School House Road, would shutter Saturday. As the company sells the last of its produce and cheese, speculation of what will fill the space has ramped up.

Although no firm announcements have been made, Duffy said a successor to the Brennan’s store could be made soon.

“Apparently, there’s an accepted offer for that site,” Duffy said. “(Brennan’s executives) have been trying to close on the site. But that’s all we know at this point.”

Attempts to reach Brennan’s executives were unsuccessful by press deadline.

Brennan’s first announced in July it would close all five of its stores by the end of this month.

Three Brennan’s locations — Brookfield, one of the two Madison stores and the flagship Monroe site — have already closed their doors as inventory has dwindled.

When word came down this summer of the decision, Brennan’s executives cited “changing consumer habits and increased competition” as reasons for closing up shop.

The statement revealed the company’s struggles stretched back nearly a decade ago — around the time the Oconomowoc location first opened.

“Brennan’s Market saw a significant decline in sales during the recession, beginning in 2008,” the statement read. “However, even as the economy rebounded, Brennan’s Market sales remained flat.”

 A Firestone Complete Auto Care facility is being built at 1688 Old School House Road, at the northeast corner of Valley Road and Highway 67.
Jake Meister/Enterprise Staff

While the Brennan’s building remains in a state of flux, other new developments are taking form in the surrounding area.

Duffy said several of the few remaining vacant lots in the area surrounding Brennan’s have been snatched up, and word of additional retailers in the area is surfacing.

This month, MOD Pizza, a rapidly growing fast-casual eatery, has announced plans of opening a new store at 1676 Old School House Road.

The Seattle-based chain, which has carved out a niche by offering unlimited toppings and selling pizzas at a standard price of $7.87, has recently opened stores in New Berlin, Shorewood and Wauwatosa.

The company, which has more than 200 locations, is slated to open its Oconomowoc eatery in November, spokeswoman Charlotte Wayte said. MOD Pizza operates in 20 states.

Alongside the retail developments is a pedestrian-friendly feature that fits snuggly into the urban design of the Brennan’s Marketplace Plaza area. Plans are moving forward on a plaza near the Qdoba eatery.

The feature is expected to offer up such amenities as decorative steel benches, decorative glass and an assortment of plantings.

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