THE HISTORY: One of the restaurants singled out by several readers was Josie’s Spaghetti House, which used to be located at the corner of Park and Regent streets in an area called “Spaghetti Corners.” It outlasted other Italian restaurants in the old Greenbush neighborhood — opening in 1964 and operating until fire closed it in 2004. Sicilian immigrant Josephine “Josie” Magnasco Schuepbach, who moved with her family to Madison in 1911, opened the restaurant and eventually passed it on to her daughter, Joanne Jensen. An ad in the State Journal in 1964 promoted $1 plates of spaghetti every Monday.
THE MEMORY: It was 1989, and I was pregnant with my first child and attending a pregnancy exercise class at what was then Madison General (Hospital). Between the hormones and the exercise and hearing my son’s fetal heartbeat at the in-class checks, I was in a great mood when meeting my husband across the street at Josie’s every week for their Tuesday all-you-can-eat dinner. We used to say that my son was mostly made of Josie’s chicken and dumplings.
—Andrea Straus, Madison
THE MEMORY: I loved seeing your picture of Josie’s Italian Restaurant! I miss that place so much. I knew it was Josie’s in the picture even before I saw the name on the sign. It was always my choice for my birthday dinner as a child and, when I got my wisdom teeth removed (from the clinic across the street), I remember making my mom stop to pick me up spaghetti and meatballs to go for me to take home to have when I could eat again. Such a great childhood memory!
—Nicole Schreck, Madison
THE MEMORY: It was in the mid 1980s. We had driven our diesel VW over from Brown Deer for a weekend meeting. Temps plummeted to sub-zero overnight, and our little VW just would not start. We had it towed to the garage on Park Street across from Josie’s. To await the unfreezing of our fuel, we decided on dinner at Josie’s. It was a very comfortable and accommodating place. We lingered unhindered over an excellent meal. When we finally left and walked across the street, the car was able to be started. We do not remember what we had, but it was great enough for us to return often when we moved to Stoughton.
—Dave Sharpe, Stoughton
THE MEMORY: The (restaurant) I miss most of all is Josie’s! As friends of the family, we spent many a football Saturday working outside at the Italian sausage (don’t say ‘brat!’) and beer stand, which was a lot of work but also a lot of fun. To this day, whenever I’m in that area, I get rather verklempt if I have to stop at the Park and Regent lights and look at the spot “where Josie’s used to be.”
—Laurie Ostrander, Oregon
THE MEMORY: I would love to go on Mondays because there was a special price on all-you-can-eat spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread and french bread. You could even have a salad with the meal! All the meatballs, sausage, spaghetti sauce and other food items were homemade.
--Julie Martinelli, Madison