This Riverwest landmark is for sale. And no, it doesn’t smell like fish.

On the corner of Locust and Humboldt, generations of Milwaukeians have read the hand-painted sign: “My Baensch Ocean Caught Herring.” The building that features these words is as close to a Riverwest landmark as you can get and owes its existence to a woman-founded business dating back to 1914.

My Baensch Food Co., 1025 E. Locust St. (Courtesy of Bobby Tanzilo/OnMilwaukee)

In this week’s “Urban Spelunking” podcast, OnMilwaukee’s Bobby Tanzilo and I discuss Milwaukee’s signature food – pickled herring – and trace how it came to Milwaukee, as well as who started the business (spoiler : it was “Ma” Baensch, herself).

We also discuss the sale of the building, next steps for the business, and details of its recent site visit (another spoiler: the business and herring are still going strong). Plus, we answer the most pressing question Bobby has received from OnMilwaukee readers: Does the building still smell like fish?

The manufacturing area. (Courtesy of Bobby Tanzilo/OnMilwaukee)
A portrait of Lina “Ma” Baensch still hangs on the wall. (Courtesy of Bobby Tanzilo/OnMilwaukee)

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Nonprofit Radio Milwaukee is supported by you! Your donation today fuels all of our work, including the story you just read!

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