As the city of Madison gradually reshapes its downtown for the Overture Project, one casualty is Dotty Dumplings Dowry, the renowned restaurant and bar that permanently closed at its Fairchild Street address after 27 years.
The owner, Jeff Stanley, fought until recently to keep Dotty’s open as long as possible and increase his compensation for the demolition of his business. He was finally ordered to close Monday, July 16, due to construction timelines.
The city of Madison offered Stanley $583,680 — the market value for his business — plus additional funds for relocation.
Stanley was disappointed with the news, yet remained thankful for the supporters that surrounded the restaurant on the Monday of the court order.
Stanley said he felt he was starring in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” and a Disney film all at once.
“I started getting big, giant tears in my eyes,” he said.
In its final week, Dotty’s rolled back prices to 1974 rates, and celebrated its customers and its history instead of mourning the restaurant’s fate.
Many students support Stanley and his restaurant and hope for its relocation somewhere downtown and near campus.
“I can’t believe Dotty’s is gone; I’m really going to miss it,” UW senior Andrew Williamson said.
“Dotty’s was by far one of the best places to get burgers…and boots!” UW junior Abby Tauer said.
Jeff Stanley said he would like to keep his business downtown but has not ruled out relocating to Verona, Fitchburg or Milwaukee.
UW sophomore Maggie Grum said she views Dotty Dumplings Dowry’s closing as something more than the loss of a burger joint.
“Dotty’s will truly be missed,” she said. “I hope it can find a new home downtown.”