Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Turn Key brings cozy supper club experience to Madison

American-style eats, games make for lively dining experience
Photo courtesy of Reese Railling/Turn Key

Turn Key Restaurant, located on East Washington Avenue in downtown Madison, has been a vibrant addition to Madison’s culinary landscape over the last year. Housed in a historic building from 1885, Settle Down Tavern and Oz by Oz owners Sam Parker, Ryan Huber and Brian Bartels opened Turn Key’s doors in September 2022, according to Channel 3000.

The restaurant also features Madison’s only deck shuffleboard court, according to Turn Key’s website.

General manager of Turn Key and friend of the owners, Reese Railling, teamed up with them in this new endeavor. Railling has been working in kitchens for about 25 years. Through all of his life experiences, he said the restaurant industry always calls him back.


Turn Key is a supper-club style restaurant, adding to Madison’s ever growing selection of these establishments. Offering a menu of local and seasonal dishes, Turn Key has been an appreciated addition to downtown Madison.

“We love to focus on food as local as we can,” Railling said.

Turn Key stands out amongst Madison’s culinary scene due to its fresh food. The combination of delicious food made by culinary professionals with a welcoming atmosphere and weekly specials makes Turn Key a great place to visit.

Since its opening, Turn Key’s owners have seen success.

“[We had a] great reception, especially with folks in the neighborhood,” Railling said.

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The restaurant has been praised for its delicious food, cozy atmosphere and friendly service. Its classic American-style menu taking inspiration from a variety of fusions is certain to leave any customer satisfied. Some of the most eye-catching menu options are the Fried Green Tomato Toast, the Tagliatelle and the Turn Key Gnocchi.

Turn Key is housed on two floors, featuring a grand bar with 33 seats, a second-floor event space seating up to 70 people, a main dining area and even a recreational room.

Turn Key’s space at 1344 East Washington Ave. is on the National Register of Historic Places, according to Madison Magazine. The building lived many lives before it became what it is today. Formerly built as a farm room, this landmark location has decades of history. The owners of Turn Key strived to retain and display as much character of the building as possible. The candle-lit wooden oak tables create a beautifully warm and inviting space.

“We’re ready to have some fun and be welcoming to everybody,” Railling said.

Turn Key also features the only deck shuffleboard court in Madison, a grand patio and maybe the biggest showstopper of them all, an enormous — and free — parking lot in the back! Turn Key’s charming oasis is perfect for date nights, happy hour, family outings and other special events, like upcoming graduation parties — looking at you, students graduating in 2024. Turn Key has also worked with the University of Wisconsin, hosting department dinners in the past.

“We’ve seen a lot of birthdays, a lot of anniversaries and a lot of work parties lately,” Railling said.

With Turn Key’s exceptional location near Willy Street and The Sylvee, a live music venue, the restaurant attracts locals, visitors and UW students as diners. Tuesday through Sunday, Turn Key features specials, including a Friday Fish Fry and a “Cheap Date Night” special on Thursday evenings. A salad, two entrees, dessert and bottle of wine or pitcher of beer for $60 is bound to be the perfect dining experience for college students.

Railling mentioned that Turn Key, being in the middle of all of the typical Thursday night action, brings in a lot of business during their happy hour.

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Their Sunday Brunch special from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. offers a $35 special of bottomless coffee, coffee cake, an entree and two cocktails. Not surprising that brunch is one of their busiest times!

Turn Key saw their busiest Sunday Brunch over the weekend of the Madison Marathon.

“It was the busiest one we’ve ever had,” Railling said.

There are lots of mouth-watering options on the Sunday Brunch menu, from the Sinaloa Sunrise to the Brioche French Toast.

Many Madison locals know of Pasqual’s Cantina, the previous occupant of Turn Key’s location. To Railling’s surprise, many diners enter Turn Key without realizing it is no longer Pasqual’s. They walk in and order margaritas and chips without even realizing the difference.

Once diners realize the restaurant is no longer the place they thought it was, they are almost always pleasantly surprised.

“I’d say, 99 times out of 100 they end up really happy,” Railling said.

How could you not end up happy with a menu like Turn Key’s and the self-proclaimed best bartenders in the world?

Turn Key has been a brilliant addition to Madison’s thriving culinary scene. Offering an experience that blends fine and casual dining and combines locally sourced ingredients with a lively and eclectic atmosphere, Turn Key is without a doubt a must-try restaurant to add to your list and keep an eye on for its future endeavors.

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