Crandall's, the longtime Madison fish-fry spot, plans to open a second location in McFarland at 5100 Erling Ave. this Friday, Jan. 16. The site, formerly home to the Park Ponderosa ballroom and currently to dance venue Con Safos, has recently been the cause of controversy. Ordinance violations for noise and fighting culminated in the McFarland Village Board suspending Con Safos' liquor license for 90 days back in October.
Now the spot will be half Crandall's; the hope is that the dinner business will help stabilize the area and "change its reputation," says Ivan Pimentel, who will operate the Crandall's side. Pimentel will serve daily specials, a daily fish fry, kids' menu, catering and drive-through service. The fish fry ($11) and other fish will be mainstays, but Pimentel may add to the menu after he "sees how things are going." Dancing at the ballroom will continue, under separate ownership, with country music on Fridays and Latin music on Saturdays, says Pimentel. Con Safos' liquor license suspension ended on Jan. 14.
Crandall's original fish fry drew crowds and long waits at the restaurant's former Main Street headquarters (now the Tornado Room); then the restaurant moved to the West Washington depot (now Willy Bikes); then established a takeout-only restaurant on University Avenue. A second, sit-down location on Monona Drive closed in 2007. The new McFarland branch adds to a fish-fry hot zone near the shore of Lake Waubesa, where the Green Lantern, the Beach House and the Park Side Pub reel 'em in within a half-mile of each other.