With most of the Edgewater-related issues from Tuesday night's Common Council meeting postponed, I decided instead to go have a drink at the Edgewater bar.
I live only a block away, but have never actually been inside. This even though I kind of like hotel bars: they're a good place to go if you want to go out but don't really want to be seen.
There was little chance of being seen at the Edgewater on Tuesday; except for the bartender and a couple of waiters, I had the place to myself.
There was some sort of banquet going on in an adjacent room, but the restaurant was dead. The panoramic window looking out onto Lake Mendota is certainly nice, and the fireplace a comfort on a chilly evening.
It's not an unpleasant place, though I wonder who the hell decorated it. The décor screamed '70s and someone had the awful idea of plastering the walls around the bar with autographed publicity photos of anyone remotely famous who had ever stayed here. It's the sort of display that is quaint in an old diner, but just makes a luxury hotel seem cheap.
The bartender, Gene Camplin, told me that Elton John once stayed here too (and legend has it, even played piano in the restaurant) but his picture isn't on the wall because he doesn't give out publicity photos. Right on, Elton.
I ordered a glass of Cabernet and talked with Camplin. He told me the bar attracts a lot of people from the neighborhood. Even Fred Mohs, the developer who lives across the street and has been fighting the redevelopment, used to stop in, but he hasn't lately.
Football season is big, especially with out-of-town fans. As is Sunday brunch. Not surprisingly, Camplin is all in favor of the redevelopment, which would likely mean much more business.
"It'd really be an important thing for Madison," he says.
And maybe it would bring in a few more customers.