A great many sacred Madison institutions have come and gone over the years — too many to list here! (That’s our way of saying, “Please don’t get mad if we missed your favorites.”) Here are our top five nostalgic picks and what stands there now.
Rennebohm Drug Store, a.k.a. Rennie’s
The first “Rennie’s” opened in 1925. It had a soda counter offering everything from milkshakes to grilled cheese sandwiches. The chain was sold to Walgreens in 1980 and the first store, located at 1357 University Avenue, was demolished in 2008. It was replaced by the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, featuring Rennie’s Dairy Bar with organic ice cream and milkshakes.
The Stadium Bar, a.k.a. Jingles’s
William “Jingles” O’Brien opened the Stadium Bar in 1957 at 1419 Monroe Street, where it became a beloved neighborhood fixture for more than 50 years. After it closed in April of 2013, it was demolished to make room for an apartment building.
Originally located at 527 State Street, this sandwich shop was a staple for students in the ’60s and ’70s. On Sunday nights, the “Pad Man” would walk campus with a box of food calling “Pad Man here!” and students would run outside to buy some. Today, it’s a Jimmy John’s.
Starting in 1972, students walking down Regent Street after bar time could buy fresh, hot donuts right off the cooling racks. In 1996, the struggling business was sold and became Greenbush Bakery. In August 2019, Greenbush relocated. The old location at 1305 Regent Street will soon reopen as a bookstore/bar/restaurant tentatively named Leopold’s.
The SERF (Southeast Recreational Facility)
A campus fixture since 1983, the SERF was demolished in January 2018. Construction is underway on “the Nick” (Nicholas Recreation Center, named after Nancy ’55 and the late Albert “Ab” Nicholas), a larger facility with more features to accommodate the fitness needs of the growing student population.