West Side Stories

A Tosa resident for almost 20 years, Karen is a mom and freelance writer, addicted to playing tennis. When not on the tennis court, she spends the fall and winter in the stands at Green Bay Packer and Marquette basketball games.

Karen is the author of “Grab a Bite,” a dining out column and the former community columnist for the Wauwatosa NOW newspaper.


Neighborhood, Restaurants, Tosa Business

The other night, having once again found myself at the end of the day without dinner on the stove, my husband, daughter and I went to Balistreri’s on 68th Street. Being Thursday night, it was fairly busy.

At one point during dinner, my daughter looked around the restaurant and said: “They should really expand, at least so there’s more room for chairs.”

I know what she meant. Balistreri’s is a VERY intimate dining experience. Often, you’re crowded into a table that sometimes may be hovered over by others waiting for tables or take-out orders. The waitresses have become experts at squeezing between chairs to deliver food and drinks. And there’s virtually no table large enough to easily fit a large pizza. It’s almost always hanging off the side of the table.

But is it a coincidence that at a time when many people are cutting back on dining out, Balistreri’s is more popular than ever? I don’t think so. No matter what happens to the Dow Jones, it’s usually a fair bet that on a weekend night around dinner time, patrons will be standing outside Balistreri’s waiting for their name to be called. For some businesses, that might be a sign that they should grow their business. Therein, might be the secret to their success.

America is all about bigger, better and faster. When something is successful, it’s not uncommon to see more of it…everywhere. And yet, could that be the source of some of our economic woes? Is expansion always the answer? Clearly not, if you look at some of the corporate giants that have fallen over the past few years.

I don’t know anything about Balistreri’s ownership. Maybe they are thinking of expanding down the line. Personally, I hope they keep things the way they are – small, crowded, home grown and delicious. For me, if it’s not broken, then don’t fix it.

Please pass the pizza and the eggplant strips!

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