Businesses rebuild on Park Street, entice new ones

Businesses rebuild on Park Street, entice new ones

Madison’s Park Street has an up-and-down past, but it seems to be going through a revival with several businesses reopening there.

A Park Street staple, Lane’s Bakery, expects to reopen Sept. 1, about a year after it closed. Its new location at the south end of the Villager Mall isn’t far from its original spot.

Park Street also helps connect businesses to customers because it’s a gateway into Madison. But while there’s potential to pick up business from people passing through, the street’s revitalization instead entices everyone to stop and stay awhile.

“It’s just a wonderful feeling,” Imelda Perez said over the music at Taqueria Guadalajara. The family-owned business is celebrating reopening on Thursday. “It was a big issue, the whole family didn’t have a job, but we made it.”

The Perez family built its business on Park Street seven years ago. The family never thought about rebuilding anywhere but there.

“Sometimes I hear people say, ‘I don’t go there because it’s Park Street and I don’t feel safe,’ and I’m like, why don’t you feel safe?” asked Perez. “It’s a normal street.”

The racially and economically diverse area is turning itself around, according to the Burr-Oak Neighborhood Association President Brad Boyle.

“Businesses are changing the look of Park Street now,” he said. “You’ve got the Villager Mall redevelopment, the Urban League and Access Health is being built now, and businesses coming in are adding value to the neighborhood.”

A few blocks from Taqueria Guadalajara is another Mexican restaurant. Jalapeno Mexican Grill opened a couple weeks ago, taking the spot of R House, a troubled tavern.

Businesses rebuild on Park Street, entice new ones

“We said, ‘You know what, let’s change it, let’s make sure we work hard and invest some money and we can make that change,'” said part-owner Alberto Lozada, who owns a second restaurant in Monona. He said his food has a different flavor.

Lozada and Perez share the same goal. Together, they’re helping to fashion the future of Park Street.

“They could have went anywhere in Madison they wanted to go,” said Boyle. “But for them to say, ‘Hey, we want to stay on Park Street,’ that’s huge for Park Street.”