Nitty Gritty fire

Fire truck with lights on parked outside the Nitty Gritty downtown

The recent fire that temporarily closed the Nitty Gritty on North Frances Street brought the realization that few restaurants or bars have endured in Madison longer than the Gritty, which opened Oct. 3, 1968.

For longtime Madisonians, it’s impossible to think about the Nitty Gritty without remembering, too, its colorful founder, Marsh Shapiro. As it happens, this December marks the 10th anniversary of Shapiro’s death, age 74, from brain cancer.