Ella's Deli & Ice Cream Parlor on East Washington Avenue marks thirty years in Madison this summer. To celebrate its birthday, the local landmark is offering a prize for each year in business, lucky winners getting anything from 30 free ice cream cones or 30 quarts of soup to having a table inside named for them.
The two new personalized tables will have quite a bit to compete with inside the restaurant to capture diners attentions, however. Famous for its crazy carnival of kitsch décor lining its wall, ceilings, and anywhere else inside with room for singing feet and spinning puppets, Ella's is oftentimes recommended as a must-see for visitors to the city. One such patron is Eric Cwiertny, a L.A.-based advertising creative director who describes the deli as "quite a cute and fun little restaurant that is popular with kids of all ages" and notes the "toys, games and animated figures" that populate its every nook and cranny.
"However, if you really start to take in everything going on around you," Cwiertny cautions, "it kinda starts to creep you out a little bit." Therefore, he created a video titled Nightmare Deli, an 80-second take on what might be Madison's biggest source of coulrophobia.
Here's how Ella's describes its displays:
Ella's Deli & Ice Cream Parlor offers a whimsical atmosphere filled with animated figures; homemade originals by the owner, various employees, and local artists in the Madison community.Another look at the madness inside the deli is available in another short video clip.
The animations include jugglers, flying supermen, castles, and decorations that are either moving back and forth on wires overheard or popping out of trap doors in the ceiling. Many tables have glass tops with detailed scenes or moveable parts inside.
Tables have landscapes, old baseball cards, old candies, origami, one is a medieval scene constructed out of Legos with moveable parts, and others have trains that actually go round. A favorite of most children is a maze with billiard balls rolling right over your head. There is a Beatles diorama, and of course there are tables highlighting the Green Bay Packers and the University of Wisconsin Badgers.
The effect is one of entertainment for children and for adults who will remember many of the things from their childhood.
Hey, look at it this way: If a visitor to Madison gets sensory overload from the décor at Ella's, then they're going to love the House on the Rock in Spring Green. Coulrophobiacs, meanwhile, will find just what they're looking for at Circus World up in Baraboo.