Jona's Pit Spot is now open on Brady Street.
Jona's Pit Spot is now open on Brady Street.

Jona's Pit Spot brings ice cream, paletas and Mexican treats to Brady Street

Jona's Pit Spot, 1023 E. Brady St., opened at the end of January, right before the pandemic hit.

Owner Julisa Marin  – who operates the business with her husband, Jose Murillo – says they made the best of the situation by offering delivery service during the spring and later opened the grab-and-go shop to the public, but without a set schedule. 

"We are usually open from late afternoon until 9 or 10 p.m. and you can see our hours every day on our Facebook page," says Marin.

Jona's is a small, cheerful space adorned with Mexican party flags, pinatas and Day of the Dead skulls.

The menu items are both sweet and savory, with sweet options including ice cream, paletas (popsicles), milkshakes, smoothies, mangonadas (mango ice cream with chili powder), fruit cups, fresas con crema (sweetened, condensed milk mixed with evaporated milk and sour cream over fresh strawberries), banana splits, banana pops (bananas in chocolate) and more.

Savory menu options include nachos, hot Cheetos, hot Takis, Tostielote (prepared corn over chips), chicharron preparado (pork skins topped with lettuce, tomato, sour cream and hot sauce) and more.

Jona's Pit Stop also serves Starbuck's coffee.

Prices are very reasonable, with a single scoop of ice cream costing $2 and nothing priced over $6.

Marin says she named her shop after her sons, Jonathan and Jonael. Marin was born in New Jersey, grew up in Mexico and moved to Milwaukee in 2009.

"This is my first business and I'm really happy to be here on Brady Street," she says.

For more information, go here.

What's not to like about Paloma Taco & Tequila?
What's not to like about Paloma Taco & Tequila? (Photo: Royal Brevvaxling)

Paloma Taco & Tequila offers tasty, friendly scene in Uptown Crossing

At the end of 2019, OnMilwaukee's Lori Fredrich shared plans for Paloma Taco & Tequila5419 W. North Ave. The cute and casual Mexican joint opened in July and has so far been well received in the neighborhood as well as social media. 

On a recent Tuesday night, the place was hopping around dinner time with every socially-distanced table taken on the patio. The masked-up staff was friendly and super accommodating, checking in regularly with those somewhat awkwardly waiting for a table on the sidewalk.

There is also a walk-up window for to-go orders and socially-distanced tables and bars inside the cute and cheerful cantina.

The two-sided menu has one page dedicated solely to drinks and the flip side lists all of the food options.

Tacos make up at least half of the food menu and are ordered a la carte on corn or flour tortillas or a bed of lettuce.Most stand-out for us was the flavorful and tender spicy chicken. Although it cold have been warmer, the chicken was slowed cooked to perfection and topped with a generous amount of Chihuahua cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and crema. The vegetarian crispy sprout was also well done, with flash fried Brussel sprouts (they reminded us of the equally-as-yummy sprouts at Camino) mixed with elotes corn salad and Cotija cheese.

Tortas, burritos, tuna tostados and vegan (tofu) offerings. Prices range from $3.50-$4 per taco to $12 for a burrito or torta.

A couple of my dinner mates started with the house-made taquitos which they reported as crispy and satisfying with tender chicken and crema sauce. Chips and salsa are not automatically served, but available for $3.

Paloma is also dog-friendly and features the Fat Puppy on the menu which is a flour tortilla slathered in peanut butter and banana. 

Besides colorful picnic tables on the sidewalk (6 feet apart for social distancing), the restaurant has a walk-up window for picking up takeout and curbside service.

Cocktails include five or six different margaritas…

Justin Suarez finally catches some shade in the final hours of working on his Harbor District mural.
Justin Suarez finally catches some shade in the final hours of working on his Harbor District mural. (Photo: Royal Brevvaxling)

The muralist behind the mural: Justin Suarez

In this new series, OnMilwaukee shines the spotlight on the artists who created the many new murals in our area. Enjoy!

Justin Suarez, aka "Aerosol Kingdom," was just finishing up his massive mural at 546 S. Water St. in the Harbor District when we arrived shortly before 11 a.m.

Suarez had been working on the 15-by-90-foot mural for 10 days.

The mural depicts a river scene featuring an otter, beaver, small mouth bass, belted kingfisher, black stripe minnow and chinook salmon. Some of these species left the river more than 100 years ago, but have recently returned thanks to the revitalization effort of the Milwaukee River watershed.

The mural is part of a series of projects by BID 51 and Harbor District, Inc. meant to enliven and activate Milwaukee’s industrial working waterfront. Coordination and logistical support for the project provided by Wallpapered City, Harbor District, Inc., and Wisconsin Lift Truck.

The first mural commissioned by BID 51 was painted in 2017 by local artist Nova Czarnecki and can be found on the railroad bridge over Greenfield Avenue near Barclay Street.

Suarez was kind enough to set down the spray paint can for a few minutes and chat with us from the lift about his life, art and passion for wildlife.

OnMilwaukee: How many murals have you painted before this one and are most of them of animals and wildlife? 

Justin Suarez: I have painted tons of murals, mostly of wildlife, all over the United States as well as in Mexico and Berlin, Germany. 

Where are you from and how did you get this gig?

I am from Rochester, New York. I was contacted by Wallpapered City about a year ago. They had seen my work on Instagram and my website and knew I had a passion for painting wildlife and thought my work would pair well with this project. 

Did your upbringing inspire your passion for art and wildlife?

Yes. I grew up on a family farm in Upstate New York and I think that seeded my passion for the outdoors in general.

As an adult, in my…

Gary Witt of the Pabst Theater Group calls for immediate action from the federal government as well as kindness from Milwaukeeans.
Gary Witt of the Pabst Theater Group calls for immediate action from the federal government as well as kindness from Milwaukeeans.

Witt reflects on harsh reality of Milwaukee venues' future

The thought of Milwaukee losing its music venues is incomprehensible for most of us because live music is an integral aspect of our city's culture, both currently and historically.

And yet, it's a real possibility at this point. It's believed that without immediate funding from the federal government, 90 percent of the country's independent venues will close. Including many of Milwaukee's beloved stages.

"Our industry is the perfect example of a business that has been 100 percent shuttered by COVID," says Gary Witt, the executive director of the Pabst Theater Group.

Aside from the entertainment value of local independent music venues, The Pabst Theater Group also contributes an extra $250 million dollars in revenue to Milwaukee’s bars, restaurants and hotels. Plus, a third of ticket buyers come from Illinois.

"From the outside, what you see of our venues may be only that we sell tickets and host concerts. But the fact is, The Pabst Theater Group, The Rave, Shank Hall, Cactus Club, Miramar and others do much more for our city than just host concerts," says Witt. "Our businesses are revenue drivers for the surrounding businesses in our city. Through our activities and the marketing surrounding them, the entertainment groups provide a soul and identity for our city."

OnMilwaukee recently checked in with Witt and asked him for specifics on the situation and to find out what can be done to literally save our stages.

OnMilwaukee: Why are music venues hit harder by COVID than other industries / businesses?

Gary Witt: We were the first businesses to close and we will very likely be the last businesses to open. Our main business is hosting large gatherings and large gatherings have specifically been targeted as assisting the spread of the virus. We have zero revenue coming in and we all have large expenses like rent, utilities, employee salaries, mortgages, insurances and repairs that have not stopped. Our industry is the perfect example of a business that has been…