Businesses feel the pain as Mayfair Road improves

Peter Zuzga
Nighttime traffic streaks past Bigg’s Roadhouse on Mayfair Road last week. Like other businesses, the restaurant has tried to weather construction on Mayfair.
Published on: 9/5/2012

Mayfair Road construction has tried the patience of countless drivers and motivated others to seek alternate routes.

Businesses in the 1½-mile stretch from Burleigh Road south to the post office, at 1655 N. Mayfair, have had their entryway hidden behind mazes of orange barrels - and paid for it.

"It killed us for three months. We had no accessibility," said Ralph Racette, general manager of Kia of Wauwatosa, 1901 N. Mayfair.

Missing cars to sell cars

The auto dealership has two entrances from the road and yet, when construction trucks would plant themselves right out in front, "there were many times when for an hour or an hour and a half it was impossible to get in," Racette said.

He said the dealership saw its sales drop 20 percent during the three-month period ending at the beginning at August - a decrease of 20 to 30 cars a month.

Racette said he noticed that some car shoppers would pass the dealership entirely, turn right at the post office, and right again into the Pick 'n Save lot next door to the dealership, where they would park and walk over.

"When we started seeing that trend, we asked Pick 'n Save if we (could) just cut the road through there," adding a little gravel that allowed cars to ease over the divide between the businesses, Racette said. The grocery store agreed, "which was very generous of them," he added.

Racette also had a sign posted at the post office turn, to direct his clientele.

Since the worst period, things are picking up, Racette said. "Every day gets a little bit better.

Roadhouse blues

Across the street at Bigg's Roadhouse, 1900 N. Mayfair Road, where large handpainted sign indicates the entryway, hostess Sharon Limbach said everyone has felt the impact of the construction.

"It was very hard to get to work" during the worst of it, she said. "With the trucks, you never knew if you could turn in here."

Business flow changed, she said. Even some of the regulars who live nearby didn't come in as often because of the poor accessibility.

She laughed. "Just when you think that they're done, you think, 'Oh good!' … then they come back and they do something else. And they're still not done yet."

Upbeat trend

Uptown Motorcars, a Ford and Lincoln dealership at 2111 N. Mayfair, said the accessibility problem at the dealership has largely disappeared.

"We were down a little bit in traffic and a little bit in sales, as well as service," said owner and president Glenn Pentler.

"We had difficulty more in June and July," he said. Since Aug. 15, "it's a whole lot easier to navigate around the area."

Pentler said that in addition to diminished sales, "it added a little stress those couple months, and you had to make the best of it. We had to work harder for what we got."

Pentler said he called the state Department of Transportation about a few issues.

"I'll tell you, they were … excellent. We did have a couple concerns, and, honestly, they followed up within a day."

One business that may have benefitted is the Radisson Hotel, at the corner of Mayfair and North Avenue.

General manager Rose Murack said that business people "stop for a cocktail or a bite to eat and wait until rush hour passes."

Complete road redo

DOT spokesman Mike Pyritz said Mayfair had deteriorated to the point that resurfacing was no longer enough, so it is being rebuilt from the ground up.

Of those in the thick of it, Pyritz said, "we are trying to make sure that we work with all the businesses."