Mickies Dairy Bar & Stadium Barbers, Madison, Wisconsin

mdb 001As is the case on most American college campuses, much of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s is under construction. The barber shop and dairy bar sit next to what is going to be “one of them fancy European hotels,” our barber informed us.

On the way from Chicago to Russell Moccasin, alongside my friend MP, an alumnus of the University of Wisconsin, I stopped in Madison for breakfast and an impromptu haircut, as MP’s rock ‘n roller shag had grown, well, too shaggy.

mdb 002Mickies uses a bike rack for a banana tree.

Mickies Dairy Bar, the quintessential Wisconsin diner, offering ten milkshake flavors and several varieties of processed cheese, is situated just across the street from Camp Randall Stadium, Badger country. Football fans have been coming here for years for a warm scrambler plate to fill their stomach’s before the big game.mdb 003According to The Capital Times,ย  the typical scrambler weighs just over two pounds. It is chock full of egg, milk, gravy, sausage, bacon, potato, and as you can see a slice or two of American cheese. How I finished this monstrosity, I will never know, but I can tell you the rest of the day was awash. I was seeing the world through the fog of a dairy coma.mdb 004

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mdb 006Growing up, I loved to go to the barber shop. I liked getting my haircut, I was fascinated by all the strange equipment, colorful tonics, and rank potions, but I also really enjoyed the small talk. It was a brand of small talk pregnant with the possibility of careening into big talk at any second, but one that always managed to know its place was safe thanks to all the sharp objects and strange creams.

sb 001Any time I get my haircut these days, the conversation ranges from talk of human dismemberment in rural Germany to images of the Papal visit to the ruins in L’Aquila, Italy, from vision quests in South America to someone’s war stories from their life as a roadie for Ratt. sb 002

Granted, mine is one wild barber shop, the conversation at Stadium Barbers in Madison, Wisconsin shared the topical breadth, as we discussed the how the town’s changed since MP’s departure in 2003, the caloric breakdown of our breakfast, and the outlandish prices New Yorkers will pay for boots.sb 003Stadium Barbers is a classic, and I wouldn’t be surprised if, with the fancy European-style hotel going in next door, the proprietors feel some pressure to relocate. I hope they stick to their guns – or their scissors – and continue to give great haircuts and better service.sb 004

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sb 006For more of my trip to Mickies Dairy Bar & Stadium Barbers see Flickr.


  1. Nick
    June 9, 2009

    Max…the more I look at that enormous plate of food, the more enraptured I become.

  2. PlaidBird
    June 9, 2009

    Thank you for bringing a tear to the eye and warming the homesick heart of this NYC Wisco woman with your visit to two of Mad-City’s many gems. If you have time check out the platter sized hashbrown sandwiches in southern Door Cty or in Madison, a cone on the picturesque Memorial Union Terrace. Of course Sprecher’s in Milwaukee is where American craft beer started. The state is a goldmine. I am pretty sure kitsch was conceived in Wisconsin Dell’s.

  3. j henley
    June 9, 2009

    mickey’s is great and tim at stadium does a fine job(doesn’t use clipper regardless of what number you tell him you’re use to)…but you missed two gems…don fine at college barber and george at park street shoe repair two craftsmen in their twilight years…don still gives straight razor shaves and george with not only replace a sole, but stitch up a baseball or hockey glove…great story tellers to boot.

    after you finish up at russell, head over to port washington and pay a visit to allen edmonds.

  4. james fox
    June 10, 2009

    love this stuff.

  5. Thomas
    June 11, 2009

    That orange stuff isn’t cheese by the way, it’s an abomination. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. walker
    June 11, 2009

    great post. I share your love of haircuts.

  7. General Goods
    June 12, 2009

    I love small town stores. It’s something you just can’t find in Los Angeles. Los Angeles just lost it’s heart a long time ago..

  8. kate
    June 15, 2009

    my favs are the pocket hairbrush (love that they’re 99 cents and the display says “sold” when one is) and the barber in the lawn chair image. been enjoying all plaidout for a while now. great stuff. thanks!

  9. sandraraven15
    September 9, 2009

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. ๐Ÿ™‚ Cheers! Sandra. R.

  10. M. Wastler
    September 9, 2009

    Thanks, Sandra! I hope you continue to enjoy it.

  11. […] next morning, I made a triumphant return to Mickies Dairy Bar. I’d been once before, but school was out, and I wanted to get the full effect. I’m not […]

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