Leaving the Overtime, we crossed South Main Street, walked through the large parking lot of the Menominee Nation Arena and entered the Maple Pub, the restaurant and bar located in the northeast corner of the Arena building.
“Maybe we should have made a reservation,” we said as nearly every table was filled. Oh, it’s Taco Tuesday. Buy a drink and make a taco. We thought of leaving, but a wait staff member pushed a couple of empty tables together and arranged six chairs.
We ordered beer, of course. Judy chose Spotted Cow; Don, Dos Equis (He was trying to make himself the most interesting man in Oshkosh!); Elaine, Lakefront IPA; Marv, Blue Moon; and a Blu Bobber with blueberries in the foam for me. If Blu Bobber is available, that’s what I get. It has nothing to do with blue berries or the fact that it’s locally brewed at the Fox River Brewery. No it has to do with the fact that I’m in a water aerobics class at the 20thStreet YMCA. Gary and Marv refer to me and my classmates as Bobbers. Gary even does an imitation of a bobber sinking and rising. Marvin and Gary think he’s very funny.
Gary, Elaine, Don and Judy took advantage of the taco bar, but also ordered off the menu. Elaine and Gary chose the bruschetta sampler. Don and Judy split the chicken quesadilla. I had a small flatbread pizza, but we all agreed Marv had the best dish: Stout Braised Beer Short Ribs with mac n’ beer cheese and Jack Daniels BBQ sauce. Not only was it taco night, it was also Margarita night. Judy wasn’t going to pass that up.
Ralph Harrison, sales and marketing director, introduced himself to us and snapped our picture that is now on the Maple Pub’s Facebook page. We exchanged cards. Harrison was pleased to tell us there would soon be corn hole tournaments held here. I assume in the arena itself. These tournaments would have celebrities playing. Who the celebrities would be I don’t know.
The Maple Pub is fairly large and very attractive. The tabletops and bar surface are butcher-block style—lovely woodwork. Hmmm, maybe maple? I am guessing too that the wood comes from the Menominee Nation forests. Edison light bulbs, boy they are popular now, hang above the bar. There is no back bar. There are also charging stations so that your phone or “device” need never go dead.
If you visit the website of the Maple Pub you will see a picture of the abandoned Buckstaff lumber company which was torn down to make room for the arena and its parking lot.
After the Milwaukee Bucks chose Oshkosh as the site of its farm team, the Herd, there was a lot of speculation about where they would build the arena. Many people thought it would be built somewhere along the Highway 41 corridor. Others though they would tear down the long vacant Pioneer Inn and build the arena there. I knew that wasn’t going to happen, as the site wasn’t big enough to hold an arena and parking lots. I thought the decision to build it on the South Main Street site of the empty Buckstaff furniture company was great.
The Buckstaff factory closed in 2011 after being in business here since 1850. It was one of several furniture / lumber companies here in “sawdust city.” And it was the last one. In 2007 John Buckstaff sold the company to Martin Corwie. However, under his management the business collapsed. An Oshkosh Northwesternarticle that I read online cited poor management. Bills were not paid; workers were not paid; orders were not shipped. Public Service finally pulled the plug.
From 2011 to 2017, the factory buildings sat empty. When it was vacated, anything inside that could be turned into cash was salvaged. That included machinery, wiring, metal pipes, etc. A fireman friend of mine told me the place was a major fire hazard. Yet there were people who felt it should be saved and turned into a museum / historical site. Certainly the arena is a bright spot on Oshkosh’s south side and will perk up that neighborhood. Now if only someone would tear down the Pioneer and replace it with a new resort.
Our visit to the Maple Pub marked the first time Elaine, Gary, Don and Judy had been in the arena. Marv and I had been to a couple Herd games and one UWO Titan women’s game. So, after our supper, we peeked into the arena itself. Not surprisingly there was an event of some kind going on. Lots of non-basketball events take place there. Joe Ferlo and his crew at The Grand Opera House also help manage the bookings at the Arena. Both Oshkosh North and West held their high school graduations there. And Marv and I took in the Jeff Foxworthy show on June 15. Kareem Abdul Jabber will be in the arena next September. Hmm, I hope he doesn’t hit his head or repeat his Dancing with the Stars appearance. And then there are the Corn Hole Tournaments.