Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Cheeseburger in…Middleton?

Jimmy Buffett’s songs have a way of warming our spirits. Lyrics about tropical beaches, lazy days in the sun, tasty cocktails, and romantic encounters can take our minds off of winter’s current grip.

Although we might know many of the words to these songs, they are only a temporary solution from the chill. Since we all can’t travel to a sunny-weather destination on a whim, why not create a packaged version of Jimmy’s paradise to Wisconsin?

A few weeks ago, Cheeseburger in Paradise opened in the new shopping complex known as Greenway Station in Middleton. Located just off the Beltline at Greenway Boulevard, Cheeseburger brings equatorial attitude to the suburbs.


Just the third Cheeseburger restaurant and bar in the country, it opened with a splash one would expect from Jimmy Buffett and his legions of “Parrothead” fans. The man himself performed for the grand opening — a fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity that raised more than $73,000.

Those who couldn’t make it for the opening have since flocked in droves. In a very short time, Cheeseburger in Paradise is the place to be in Middleton.

“Last Saturday there was a two-and-a-half hour wait,” managing partner Norman Bondoc explains. “The biggest surprise is how people have found us by word-of-mouth,” he adds.

By mixing equal parts of Jimmy Buffett’s magic, boat drinks, comfort food, live music, and a chipper staff, Bondoc thinks he has a winner. “People who come here will have fun,” he says with a grin.

The bar is centrally located in the restaurant, and takes up a good portion of the space. The theme gets pushed to the limit with thatched-hut awnings, palm tress, and a sign above reading, “Wanna Lai Cabana Bar.”

While some might find the gimmick overwhelming, the drinks certainly soothe the soul. The problem is simply finding where to start.

The drink menu is found in what is called the “Bar Log”, a three-ring binder with over 20 pages of every drink under the sun. It is a daunting, yet exciting read. But if you want to get into the vibe quickly, you might be better off letting one of the bartenders decide.

There are several margarita variations, but the classic tends to be most popular. It is served in a thick martini-style glass, and topped with a garnish of lime and orange that looks like a frog. The rocks version tends to come with too much ice, so I recommend the frozen.

Another interesting drink takes the name of the establishment, thusly called Cheeseburger in Paradise. A layered frozen cocktail combining piña colada, margarita, rum runner, and daiquiri, it makes for an impressive and colorful presentation. The mix of flavors runs sweet, but it is a good starter drink, especially for those not looking to taste too much alcohol. The added garnish of fruit and a mini-gummi cheeseburger will certainly draw your curiosity as well.

Appearance is a big deal at Cheeseburger. Almost all drinks come with a mini-umbrella or sliced fruit made to look like a parrot or an airplane called the “Hemisphere Dancer.” One might think such showmanship comes with a premium, but most frozen drinks run between $5.50 and $7.50.

There are seven beers on tap, including the Island Ale brewed by Leinenkugel, and the seasonal Winter Skal made by Capital Brewery. The two options are 14-ounce and 22-ounce, and range from $2.75 to $5.00.

Bottled beers, like Corona with the requisite lime, fit the mood of Cheeseburger as one would expect. An added bonus to a bottled beer is something called a Tooter Topper, which is a shot of Granny Apple Margarita in a shot glass that fits on top of the bottle for an extra dollar.

Live music completes Cheeseburger’s entertainment, and is offered every night starting at about 9:00pm. The stage is small, but is able to accommodate such local faves like the Mighty Short Bus. Every Monday features Karaoke, with half-price margaritas and a $50 prize to the best performer of the night.

Each month Cheeseburger also hosts a “Full Moon Party”, which is another excuse to party island-style. Beads and a drink special add to the theme, and the next one is coming up on February 6.

The environment at Cheeseburger in Paradise is fabricated, but totally unlike anything in the area. It is meant to be relaxed — the type of place where you don’t take things too seriously.

You don’t have to be a fan of Jimmy Buffett or wear a Hawaiian shirt to enjoy yourself. All you need is a ride out to Middleton, and a few hours to escape. It doesn’t beat a trip to the tropics, but you’ll be smiling all the same.

Bartime will head to the City Bar and Grill this weekend. The City is located on State Street across from Brats. Cheers!

Meet Your Bartender

Bartime’s weekly Q & A at the featured bar

Name: Shawn Moore

How long bartending: 2 years, started at TGI Fridays.

Year in school: Senior, one year left, economics major.

Favorite drink: The Mojito — made with real mint, lime juice, rum, a dash of syrup and soda. Big fan of all things Bourbon as well.

Jimmy Buffett’s favorite drink: “Don’t know — do you?”

Worst pick-up line: “Are you tired, because you’ve been running through my mind all night.” Apparently, this one has worked before.

Best drinking quote: “It’s 5:00 somewhere!”

Hidden talent: Bar tricks involving cocktail straws.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Badger Herald

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Wisconsin-Madison. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Badger Herald

Comments (0)

All The Badger Herald Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *