After 33 years as a fixture on Monroe Street, Michael’s Frozen Custard will close next month after the owner’s spouse was denied a U.S. visa, the owner’s lawyer said Wednesday.
Owner Michael Dix married Sergio De La O Hernandez, then an undocumented immigrant, in 2015, and Hernandez became an integral part of the business at 2531 Monroe St., overseeing daily operations, attorney Jessica Slind said.
Dix sponsored Hernandez for a U.S. visa so Hernandez could obtain legal status in the country. But when Hernandez returned to his home country of Mexico last August for a visa interview, he was denied the visa and denied re-entry into the United States, Slind said.
Dix and Hernandez then filed a waiver to excuse the years Hernandez spent in the U.S. without authorization and to show there would be undue hardship for Dix if Hernandez could not return. Slind said that waiver was denied Aug. 14, and she plans to file an appeal within the 30-day time frame.
Sergio De La O Hernandez, left, and Michael Dix married in 2015.
The restaurant will close Sept. 9.
Hernandez entered the country illegally more than 30 years ago to find work, Slind said, and has lived here since. He has no criminal record. He has a college-age daughter in the United States.
Dix and Hernandez declined through Slind to comment. They are both currently in Mexico, but Slind said Dix has health problems that could be exacerbated if he must move permanently to Mexico to live with his husband.
Michael’s Frozen Custard, which opened in 1986, has seen significant losses since Hernandez left, Slind said.
“My separation from Sergio has been extremely painful for both of us and has been disastrous for my business,” Dix said in a statement.
Dix also owns two other Michael’s Frozen Custards, at 5602 Schroeder Road and 3826 Atwood Ave. Slind said those locations will remain open but their stability “remains up in the air” if Hernandez remains barred from the U.S.
“The denial of his visa is causing this family an enormous amount of pain,” Slind said. “And the effects will reverberate throughout the entire community. The closing of Michael’s directly translates into losses for the local economy and the people of Madison.”
Closed restaurants: Jimmie's "Ace of Places"
Jimmie's "Ace of Places" Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge, at 906 Regent St., was also known as Jimmie's Spaghetti House. It later became Josie's Spaghetti House.
Amato's Holiday House
Amato's Holiday House, a popular Italian restaurant on South Park Street, was owned and operated by Sam and Roselyn Amato for 43 years. It closed in 1990. It's shown here in 1987.
Botticelli's restaurant on King Street closed in 1997.
Brat und Brau
Brat und Brau restaurant owners, Al (left) and Dick Hiebing, shown in 1980. The campus-area Brat und Brau operated for 25 years at 1421 Regent St. -- from 1969 to 1994. The brothers also had restaurants in other locations.
Bunky's Italian Restaurant
Vito and Ninfa Capadona opened Bunky's Italian restaurant in the 1930s, originally located on the corner of Park and Regent streets -- one of three restaurants comprising the so-called "Spaghetti Corner" in Madison. In the 1970s, the site later became the home of Pino's Restaurant and Bunky's Nightclub, operating into the 1980s. The name Bunky's came to life again when the Capadonas' great-granddaughter, Teresa Pullara, opened Bunky's Cafe on Atwood Avenue in 2004. That restaurant still operates today.
Crandall's, a popular Downtown establishment, first opened on West Main Street before moving to this location at 116 S. Hamilton St. The restaurant moved to the Railroad Depot on West Washington Avenue in 1990 but closed three years later.
Poole's Cuba Club
Poole's Cuba Club was a revered Madison supper club on University Avenue that closed on Dec. 1, 1988. It was started by Lyle Poole in 1946 and was known for its steamed shrimp specials, fish fries and steak. The restaurant building is shown here in 1989.
Cafe Palms in the Hotel Washington
Cafe Palms in the Hotel Washington was lost in the 1996 that destroyed the building, located on West Washington Avenue. It was known for late-night dining.
The Cathay House, a Chinese restaurant on East Washington Avenue, was opened by Yew K. Low in 1955 and operated for more than 40 years. Even though newspaper archives have many references to the once-popular Cathay House, we have no photos. Credit for this Cathay House matchbook goes to the
Lost Madison Facebook page.
DiSalvo's Spaghetti House
DiSalvo’s Spaghetti House, 810 Regent St., operated in the old Greenbush neighborhood, along with DiSalvo’s Grocery. This photo shows the interior of the restaurant in 1944. Image ID: 6816
Fess Hotel restaurant
The Fess Hotel restaurant opened in 1975 and became a hot spot for nearly two decades, closing in 1994. Located at 123 E. Doty St., the building was historic -- built in the 1850s and run as a hotel until 1972. It now houses the Great Dane Restaurant and Brew Pub Downtown. The building is shown here in 1973.
Frenchy's Restaurant, 3302 University Ave., operated until a kitchen fire in the 1960s. This photo from 1946 shows an interior view of the bar, including bar-top juke box controls and a sign saying "Welcome back... Wearer of this badge of honor, you have served your country well and we thank you."
Frida Mexican Grill
Frida Mexican Grill, a restaurant and bar at 117 State St., closed in January 2012 after problems with violence and a proposal for redevelopment. It's shown here in April 2006.
Fyfe's Corner Bistro
Fyfe's Corner Bistro, 1344 E. Washington Ave., opened in 1993 and closed in 2007.
Cafe Continental, 108 King St., Madison, closed in 2010 after 25 years in business. It was run by the Schiavo family, which also used to run Antonio's on Park Street.
Gino's Italian restaurant on State Street was open for 50 years before closing in 2013. Gino's opened in 1963 and then moved across the street four years later to 540 State St.
Goal Post Supper Club
The Goal Post Supper Club, located on Branch Street in Middleton, closed in 1989.
The Golden Dragon restaurant, 112 E. Mifflin St., opened on June 6, 1974, and operated for 25 years before closing in 1999. The owner, Suey Wee Wong, picked that day because a book of oracles said it was a good day for a new venture. Her son, Suey Wong, is pictured here in the restaurant in 1995.
Griff's Restaurant & Frozen Custard, located at 1233 McKenna Blvd., closed in 2010 after being open since 1993 in a spot near Elver Park. It was known for its fried chicken and burgers.
Hoffman House Restaurant
The original Hoffman House Restaurant was started in Madison in 1946 by seven Hoffman Brothers, who later expanded into other areas of the Midwest. The photograph above, taken in 1955, shows the Carousel Bar in that first Hoffman House Restaurant, 514 E. Wilson St. Photo image ID: 29186
Irish Waters Restaurant and Pub, 702 N. Whitney Way, closed in 2007 after almost 30 years in business.
It had a dark oak and mahogany bar, stained glass, brass and hardwood floors.
Jolly Bob's Caribbean restaurant and bar, 1210 Williamson St., closed Dec. 6, after operating for more than 22 years. It offered diners tropical-style dishes and drinks.
Josie's Spaghetti House
Josie's Spaghetti House, 906 Regent St., was a fixture on the corner of Park and Regent streets since 1964 -- known for homemade sausage and spaghetti and meatballs. A fire in July 2004 shuttered the place, and the owners never reopened. The site was redeveloped. The defunct restaurant is shown here in 2006.
La Paella, 2784 S. Fish Hatchery Road, closed in 2006.
The restaurant was opened in 1994 by Tomas Ballesta.
Leske's Supper Club
Leske's Supper Club closed in September of 2001 after being a fixture at the corner of Monona Drive and Broadway since the mid-1950s.
McDonald's on the Capitol Square
The McDonald's restaurant, 20 W. Mifflin St., closed in 2004 after being the Capitol Square's fast-food mainstay.
Minnick's Top Hat
Minnick's Top Hat restaurant operated for 35 years at its location on University Avenue at Branch Street in Middleton. Bill and Alice Minnick closed the place in 1988.
The Monastery restaurant
The Monastery restaurant closed in 1994. Its interior is shown here in December 1984, with owner Biagio Gargano and employees Van Zoest and Susan Armstrong.
Namio's Dinner Club
Namio's Dinner Club on Park Street opened in the late 1960s and closed in 1992. It's shown here in November 1982. It was previously the Sherwood Forest Dinner Club.
In 1960, Nate and Betty Troia opened Nate's Place, at East Broadway and highways 12-18, where they served pasta dishes for about $2 and fish fries for 75 cents. The Troia family was well-known in the local restaurant business -- with siblings opening Paisan's, Portobella and Troia's Steak House.
The Nob Hill restaurant on South Highway 12 (33 W. Beltline Highway) was once a popular supper club. Part of its interior view is shown in this picture from 1957.
Ovens of Brittany
The original Ovens of Brittany restaurant opened at State and Johnson streets in 1971, and other locations opened around town in the years that followed. The landmark restaurants were known for bringing continental cuisine to Madison. The last one shuttered in 2000. This picture from Ovens dates to 1974.
Parisi's Bar & Grill
Parisi's Bar & Grill, shown above on the left, closed in 1983. It was located near the corner of University and Highland avenues.
Pines Supper Club
A landmark for more than 30 years, the Pines Supper Club, 2413 Parmenter St., was altered into a private-investment venture. It's pictured here in July 1979.
Rohde's Steak House was a popular restaurant at 613 W. Main St. from 1932 to 1982, when it closed. It was founded by Edward and Bertha Rohde. Pictured here is a menu from 1964. Image ID: 106408
Rosario's, at 6001 Monona Drive, closed in 2011 after 36 years.
The upscale Simon House, 107 S. Butler St. near the Capitol Square, often drew dignitaries such as President Kennedy and his wife, Jackie, as well as Nelson Rockefeller and Adlai Stevenson. This undated menu included a card offering the "Booth Bay Harbor Live Lobster (2 served) Complete Dinner 4.25." The restaurant closed in 1972.
The White Horse Inn
The White Horse Inn closed in 2006 after operating for more than 25 years.
Upstairs Downstairs Deli
The original Upstairs Downstairs Restaurant and Deli, 232 State St., closed in 1995, ending 18 years of operation at the site.
Wild Iris Cafe
The Wild Iris Cafe, 1225 Regent St., closed in 2001 after nearly 11 years in business. This photo is from 1994.
Wilson Street Grill
The Wilson Street Grill, 217 S. Hamilton St., served its last meal on New Year's Eve 2001. In this 1995 photo, Andrea Craig, left, and Nancy Christy pose in their restaurant.
Throwback gallery: About the slideshow
Information and images for this gallery largely came from newspaper archives, as well as the State Historical Society. You can find more on now-shuttered eateries in our throwback series on
Beloved Madison-area restaurants and bars we still miss.