NEWaukeean of the Week

Caitlin Cullen

"People here are friendlier than any place I’ve ever been."

By - May 8th, 2017 12:02 pm
Caitlin Cullen. Photo courtesy of NEWaukee.

Caitlin Cullen. Photo courtesy of NEWaukee.

Where do you work and what makes your role awesome? 

The Tandem at 18th and Fond Du Lac Ave. in Miwaukee’s Lindsay Heights neighborhood. Owning a restaurant means I sleep rarely, eat even less frequently, and wear the same jeans far too regularly. That said, having a staff that shows up to work early because they enjoy their workplace, stays late because they love socializing with their restaurant family, and takes my resting cranky face with a grain of salt, makes all this craziness worth it.

How long have you lived in Milwaukee and what brought you here?

I’ve been in Milwaukee just shy of four years, and got here by closing my eyes and pointing at a map of the Midwest. When I got the Milwaukee lowdown on Wikipedia, and stumbled across the portion of the article about the Bronz Fonz, I knew Milwaukee was a place that could be home for me.

What do you love most about Milwaukee?

People here are friendlier than any place I’ve ever been. Pass someone on the street and they smile and say hi. That’s insane.

What is your favorite Milwaukee tradition?

Dang if it isn’t a fish fry… Milwaukee and Detroit have so much in common, but being in Michigan on a Friday (at least outside of Lent) breaks my heart. Where’s my perch? Where’s my old fashioned with olives? Where’s all the families eating together? I know a fish fry is more accurately a Wisconsin tradition, but I met my first Friday fry at the Packing House and never looked back.

What neighborhood do you live in and why do you love it?

While my apartment is in Riverwest, my home is in Lindsay Heights – I spend upwards of 80 hours a week on Fond Du Lac and 18th and wouldn’t change it for the world. Lindsay Heights is home to some brilliant, motivated minds who drive positive change in their community because someone’s got to do it and who better than themselves. Walking down North Ave., everyone knows everyone by face (and likely name and family), and it only takes a few meetings to become a true friend. I love Lindsay Heights because it loves itself.

What’s your favorite hidden gem or secret fact about the city?

The egg and cheese sandwich, quick heated and adorned with Sriracha, at the Fuel Cafe on Center, kept me alive while planning and preparing to open a restaurant. Each morning, I’d have about 6 minutes to drive 30 city blocks, shove some food in my mouth, drink my coffee, and prepare for a 15 hour day of manual labor. A large black coffee and a sandwich for the same price as McDonald’s? That’s the definition of a gem in my book.

6 thoughts on “NEWaukeean of the Week: Caitlin Cullen”

  1. stephen thiel says:

    I have the pleasure of knowing Caitlin Cullen for the past 3 years and it is hard to find a stronger advocate for the City. She has the most optimistic, “can-do” attitude you could ever find. When presented with some all-too-common urban zaniness
    , she matter-of-factly dispelled it with “This is nothing, I’m from Detroit ” . With that reassuring confidence, and her incredible work ethic, Caitlin (and the Tandem redtaurant) certsinly has success within sight. Milwaukee is blessed to have her here.

  2. Joy Adams says:

    Wow! this is my upper for today! What a wonderful article and such a positive gal. Think I will have to go to eat at her restaurant. This is the type of article that should be blasted all over the front page of the Journal…Thank you Caitlin for being such a positive person. Milwaukee needs more of this type of publicity!

  3. Marybeth says:

    I was lucky to attend the forum, the future of dining in Milwaukee. Caitlin was one of a group of restaurant owners, employees and the MATC Culinary Program director. She took a risk, jumped in and opened a restaurant hiring local workforce. The food is great and the atmosphere is like joining a local family for dinner.

  4. Barbara Richards says:

    Hope you will all be regulars at Tandem. This is a way forward!

  5. Cathy says:

    What a great article! And I have to agree with Caitlin…folks here take their friendliness for granted – many natives think people here are rude. You haven’t seen rude if you think people here are rude and unfriendly! You Milwaukee folks are THE friendliest I have ever met. Never forget that! Never change that!

  6. Patricia Gabarra says:

    Love your spirit, woman!
    And love Milwaukee too!

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