Gone, but still some of the best Best of Madison winners

While these businesses are no longer operating in the Madison area, they leave behind a legacy of memories and Best of Madison awards.
Ella's deli exterior with the carousel in the background
Photo by Tracy Tucholski

While these two businesses are no longer operating in the Madison area, they leave behind a legacy of memories and Best of Madison awards. Both Ella’s Deli and Ovens of Brittany topped the charts with more than 50 wins each.

Ella’s Deli
After 42 years in business, Ella’s Deli and Ice Cream Parlor closed its doors in 2018 — but not before winning 73 Best of Madison awards. With all the toys and that famous carousel, it’s no wonder it was celebrated 33 times for its kid-friendliness and kid-friendly menu. Apart from being honored as a family-friendly establishment, Ella’s Deli won 24 awards in the deli category and 10 awards in the desserts category. Recently the owners released a cookbook, so new generations can try the iconic establishment’s recipes at home.

Ovens of Brittany
One of the most legendary food businesses in Madison history is Ovens of Brittany. It opened in 1972, but closed all locations by the end of 2000. If it had remained open, it would be celebrating its 50th anniversary next March. Ovens of Brittany is famed for the creation of the morning bun, though it won four years in a row for its muffins. Out of its 51 awards, Ovens of Brittany won 14 times in the bakery category and nine times in the dessert category.


From 1993 to 2008, The Blue Marlin dominated the seafood category in Best of Madison. In its 29 years, The Blue Marlin won 27 awards — 20 for seafood. The owner had fresh seafood delivered from Milwaukee purveyors six days a week to ensure freshness in the landlocked Midwest.

When it came to footwear, Cornblooms was the place to go for 40-plus years at Hilldale Shopping Center. It moved many times, including three times within Hilldale, but despite the changes it was chosen as a best shoe store nine times.

Woldenberg’s, a 39-time winner, called the area home for more than 100 years, but it closed its final location, located at Greenway Station, in 2011.

Exterior of Fess Hotel

Photo by Noah Willman

Like its successor, Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co., Fess Hotel was a staple in the community. By the time Best of Madison was introduced, it was no longer a hotel, so most of its 22 awards were in the restaurant category (largely for brunch).

The development of a North Frances Street apartment complex impacted a couple of businesses, including Kabul and Husnu’s. Kabul was a six-time Best of Madison winner that moved across the street and later closed in 2018. For Husnu’s, a 17-time winner, the development spurred a permanent closure in 2013.

A more recent closure in 2019 was Jamerica, which won 11 awards, on Williamson Street. Owner Martin Deacon decided to retire after 24 years in business.

mural at New Orleans Takeout

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With 24 awards, New Orleans Take-Out had been a reliable favorite since 1985 for Cajun and New Orleans cuisine. The original location closed on Fordem Avenue in 2017 and the second location on Monroe Street, which had a different owner, closed in 2019.

While Luther’s Blues was only in Madison for five years, it made an impact winning in the live music category five times. The venue had multiple levels with multiple bars, a club and restaurant.

Read more about the Best of Madison Legacy Awards here.

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