The Madison Blind closed last month and is being replaced by a more casual bar and restaurant called Camp Trippalindee, its name a reference to the Rodney Dangerfield movie, "Back to School."
The menu will feature items associated with summer camp. Think grilled hot dogs, hamburgers and brats.
The Madison Blind originally opened in August 2015 on the top floor and rooftop of Graduate Madison, part of a small hotel chain owned by a Chicago investment group. It closed for construction and re-branding Aug. 7.
"Camp Trippalindee is going to be a unique concept for Madison. I think it's going to offer a fun, bar vibe to the students who are around here in the school year and to locals and hotel guests in the summer as well," said executive chef Shanna Pacifico, who oversees the new restaurant as well as the ground-floor cafe and coffee shop, Portage Pi.
The bar and restaurant will open in mid-September with a series of soft openings. Pacifico is in the process of hiring and training new staff.
Pacifico started in mid-March and tweaked the Blind's menu. She said sometimes the restaurant was busy, but that wasn't always the case. "I think we felt like we were just missing the mark a little bit."
The remodel aims to make the drab restaurant and bar look more like the hotel's lobby, which has a youthful, splashy style. The seven-floor hotel took over what had been the Campus Inn, 601 Langdon St.
Pacifico describes the new bar and restaurant as offering a fast-casual food environment, "in an elevated way without being pretentious."
She said the name Camp Trippalindee is meant to evoke the 1986 movie "Back to School," filmed, in part, on the UW-Madison campus.
In the movie, Dangerfield plays a businessman who goes back to school at his son’s college. The movie ends with Dangerfield performing the impossible "Triple Lindy" dive to win a swim meet.
The name Trippalindee is a play on "Triple Lindy." Since it opened, Portage Pi has had a drink called the "Triple Lindy," a double shot of espresso over iced coffee.
Pacifico made some minor changes to the Portage Pi menu, but it has stayed mostly the same. The shop recently got a walk-up window.
The rooftop patio will have fire pits so customers can roast marshmallows for s'mores. The bar will serve boozy hot drinks, including spiked hot chocolate and mulled cider. Pacifico said it will offer blankets for people who want to sit outside in the fall and winter.
Camp Trippalindee is both highbrow and lowbrow, she said. "Even though you are getting burgers and brats, we're sourcing the meats locally, with some coming from Fox Heritage Farms."
Expect lake fish and cheese curds. The drink menu will feature barrel-aged cocktails as well as an "adult Capri Sun and everything in between," Pacifico said.
Original executive chef, Chris Cubberley, left in February, calling the location "a tough spot, surrounded by students."
He lives in Lake Mills, where in January 2016 he opened The Grist Bar and Table with Andy Haker and Tommy Gohsman, the owners of Madison's bar and restaurant on King Street.
Pacifico, meanwhile, is a first-generation American, whose parents were born in Brazil. She grew up in Florida, and moved to New York when she was 20.
"I've been cooking forever," she said.
She studied at New York’s French Culinary Institute, now known as the International Culinary Center, and began her career as a line cook at Peter Hoffman’s SoHo restaurant Savoy. She later worked in his Back Forty restaurants.
For a brief period she was a chef-partner in a restaurant called Pacifico’s Fine Foods in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Her parents, who were in the food industry, had a business of that name when she was growing up.
"Sometimes things don't work out," she said. "You figure out what your mistakes were and you move on."
Moving to Madison, where her boyfriend grew up, provided a necessary change. "I became an adult in New York. I became a grown-up and wanted to be part of a more intimate, smaller chef community."