Since 1976, Teddywedgers has been a city staple for pasties, a folded pastry with meat and vegetables.
For as long as they can remember, current owners and siblings Karima Berkani and Anthony Rineer have enjoyed the special culinary treat, and now provide the rest of the Madison the opportunity to try the food that has always been a part of their lives. With original recipes still intact, patrons can taste the same foods the brother and sister have enjoyed in Madison for the past 40 years.
According to Rineer, the decision to buy the business was a mutual agreement between him and his sister. When they saw the business was for sale, the two knew they had to intervene to save a place that so many see as a Madison icon.
“It was one of those family things,” Rineer said, “Growing up on it as a kid, it’s just a part of my life. So when it went up for sale it was kind of like a panic — it was like a Madison icon dying.”
Buying a restaurant so spontaneously may seem like a challenge, but both Rineer and Berkani have prior experience in the culinary business. Rineer has held jobs as a bartender, barista and server and also has a knowledge of cooking, while his sister also worked in many restaurants, Rineer said.
Rineer explained that the original recipes had to be tracked down, and the subsequent difficult search included reaching out to past managers. The task was tedious, but keeping the original recipes in use was very important to Rineer for the sentimental value.
“The owner before us was suffering from epilepsy and actually could not remember how to make the pasties,” Rineer said. “We also got in contact with the manager before him who had luckily written them down.”
Preserving original recipes, however, does not mean the entire store be remain unchanged. The siblings have implemented their own recipes in addition to the originals when making the pasties. Rineer said that future plans for Teddywedgers include staying open late, building an outdoor café and getting a food cart set up.
With these future additions, Teddywedgers can become a tradition for a new generation of Madison community members. According to Rineer, the location of the shop at the top of State Street and the uniqueness of the product give it the potential to continue to be an icon for years to come.
“Madison is going through a very big change right now and to be able to keep something that is so culturally important in Madison alive is a much cooler situation than to just own a restaurant,” Rineer said.
Rineer also said buying the business was a total blur filled with excitement and stress. The realization that he had just bought a restaurant was overwhelming, but the relief he felt after saving a beloved business was well worth it.
Though Rineer admitted he does not remember eating his first pasty from Teddywedgers, he is glad his sister and he will be responsible for many people getting to try their first Teddywedgers pasty because of their decision to buy a restaurant they’ve known and loved.
“A little bit of stress there, but it’s good,” Rineer said. “It’s an awesome community down here. It’s just really cool to be a part of history like that.”