Paisan’s reopens Friday after city clears return to building

MADISON, Wis. — The city of Madison on Friday said enough steps have been taken to repair a downtown building housing Paisan’s restaurant that it can safely reopen while more permanent repairs are made.

Building inspectors notified the owners of the building at 131 W. Wilson St., which has housed Paisan’s restaurant, that the building has been verified as safe to open. Wally Borowski, the restaurant’s owner, told News 3 Now it would open at 3 p.m. Friday for limited in-person dining and takeout with a smaller menu.

“It’s pretty exciting but also kind of terrifying,” he said.

Despite the reopening, Borowski said there’s still a long road ahead.

Returning to normal won’t be easy. Many staff members have either gone to work at sister restaurant Porta Bella on Frances Street or left entirely, and he doesn’t blame them.

Customers too, he said, can’t keep track of if the restaurant is open or closed, to say nothing of the building’s structural integrity.

RELATED: Paisan’s owner speaks out after second evacuation in several months

The building was first shut down in September over concerns that its underground parking garage was in such disrepair that the building was in danger of collapsing.

The building, which is also home to several private offices, reopened in October after steps had been taken to restabilize it. But the city said it was forced to close the building once again and vacate it in December after learning work on monitoring the build’s stability had stopped.

RELATED: ‘It’s been troubling:’ Paisan’s co-owner concerned about deferred repairs

The city said it will continue to work with the owner of the building to make sure proper monitoring and safety precautions continue. However, in a letter to the building’s owners Friday, the city said more permanent steps still need to be taken to repair the building.

The city is also not allowing the underground parking garage to be accessible to the public or building occupants as a condition of reopening the building. In order for the building to remain open, the shoring system will need to be inspected and certified every two weeks to verify the building’s integrity is still intact. The parking garage will also need to be monitored and have its conditions documented at least once every three months.

Borowski expects to be compensated by the building’s owner from both the initial closure in September and the latest closure in December.

Even though the building has once again been deemed safe to occupy, he said the restaurant may not stay there forever.

“We have been looking because it would be foolish for us to assume that anything is going to be… this thing is going to continue as it is,” he said.

Still after investing so much into their longtime home overlooking Lake Monona, Borowski and his team are hoping for the best.

“This floor was entirely installed by Paisan’s employees,” he said, gesturing to the ground below him. “We didn’t have a flooring contractor come in and do that. We did that ourselves.”