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Friday, September 19, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 73.0° F  Mostly Cloudy and Breezy
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Paul Haas
The owner of Paul's talks about life in the ultimate neighborhood bar
"My customers are real down-to-earth folks."
"My customers are real down-to-earth folks."
Credit:Susan Kepecs

Occupation: Owner

Where: Paul's Neighborhood Bar & Grill,
2401 Parmenter St., Middleton

Why you should go: It's classic Wisconsin ' traditional bar food in an utterly
unpretentious setting.

Are you a neighborhood native?

I was born in Madison, in 1964. Went to Middleton High School ' I'm a Middleton boy at heart. My mom and dad owned taverns all my life, including the old Town Pump, and Speedway Bar on Mineral Point. I started tending bar there when I was 9 years old ' you can, if your parents own the building! I bought Speedway from my parents and kept it till two years ago, when I sold it to a bank.

Meanwhile, I bought this place. Altogether, I bought it four times. The first, about eight years ago, was with two partners. We had a disagreement, and my brother Don and I bought them out, but we couldn't handle it, so my wife Cheryl bought in. Now we're divorced, and I'm the sole owner.

I hear raves about your breakfasts ' what gives?

Sunday morning's a real winner. Lots of locals gather to chat and eat some good food. We serve up two eggs with a nice slab of prime rib, hash browns or corned beef hash, and toast. The meat's from Knoche's, so it's the best. But we do eggs, pancakes and omelets every morning. My favorite's "The Works" ' ham, cheese, green peppers, mushrooms, tomato and onions.

We have hot lunch specials and soup and sandwich combos every day ' good hot food at reasonable prices.

My folks always did food at their taverns, too. My Friday night fish fry's just like theirs, but better. It's a secret German recipe. I got tired of cooking it, though, so I handed that down to my son.

What else goes on in here?

We're big into NASCAR, so that's usually what's on the TV. You can shoot pool free on Thursdays, and the jukebox is free on Fridays and Saturdays. It's loaded with rock 'n' roll and country, especially Johnny Cash. This is a nice small place for locals to hang and have fun. But most of my customers are men ' I'd say 80%. My bar manager, Julie Pulley, handles 'em fine. We need more women around here, though!

My customers are real down-to-earth folks who all know each other. One guy's a botanist who knows everything about plants. Another guy has to put the Weather Channel on whenever he comes in. One customer comes in every Thursday at five in the afternoon and wants eggs and coffee. We don't do breakfast after noon, but he and his wife used to go to Denny's every week for that. She passed away and Denny's raised their prices, so he couldn't afford to go anymore. We're glad to make him happy.

I hear you like horse racing.

I always know what's runnin' on any track at any time. I go down to Arlington Park by Chicago every chance I get. Some day I hope to own a track! At least, I'd like to win the lottery, get enough money to buy a decent racehorse, and enter him in the Kentucky Derby. That's my dream.

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