The costumes are gone but medications have returned to the former Mallatt’s Pharmacy building on Monroe Street.
Many of the customers still come from the neighborhood but the patients are furry, four-legged and in need of treatment or a check-up.
After 77 years, the former pharmacy building that also became known for its Halloween costumes, has a new look and a new use as neighboring Lakeview Veterinary Clinic has expanded its practice into the building for a cat-only annex.
The 2,100-square-foot clinic at 3506 Monroe St. features exam rooms with cat trees, an adoption center for the Madison Cat Project and a spacious treatment center — but it is for cats only. Dogs and other critters are treated next door at the clinic’s 1,400-square-foot facility that opened in 2006 but the new space is designed to be more calming and help put felines at ease in what typically is a stress-filled experience.
“It’s very quiet,” said Tom Bach, a veterinarian and co-owner of the practice. “Especially when you’re not feeling well you don’t need that extra salt-in-the-wound of a barking dog.”
The new space also helps alleviate pressure at the older clinic and could help Lakeview, with six veterinarians, continue to grow. One veterinarian works out of the cat annex but more could be added in the future, Bach said. The new clinic also preserves an old building that had been eyed by a developer until Bach and a group of partners purchased the building in an effort to control what would go in next door to their clinic.
The move came after Mallatt’s closed its doors in 2017, ending a long retail history for the business. Adolph Mallatt founded Mallatt’s in 1926 on State Street and moved to Monroe Street in 1941. Mike Flint, who started working at Mallatt’s as a clerk in 1979, bought the business from Bill Mallatt in 1992. He purchased Shafer Pharmacy on Williamson Street in 2010 and two years later purchased Harris Pharmacy’s two stores in Waunakee and Lodi.
But in fall 2016, all four stores ended pharmacy services and ultimately closed in February 2017.
After purchasing the building, Bach and his investors remodeled the upstairs into two apartments and then began looking for a tenant for the ground-floor space. But the tenant turned out to be the clinic, owned by Bach and fellow veterinarian, Pam Mache. They spent three months and about $100,000 on the build-out to convert the space to a clinic, which opened late last month.
It includes cabinetry from the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store and reclaimed barn boards purchased from Deconstruction, a Madison company that specializes in selling salvaged items and building materials that are typically between 50 and 200 years old.
“We have outgrown the space in our building but love our location,” Mache said. “By creating the cat annex we can now offer more appointment time to dogs in our current practice while simultaneously providing this preferred locations for cats in the new facility. We also are very happy that we have the opportunity to allow the iconic Mallatt’s building to continue to operate as a neighborhood business.”
Madison is flush with veterinary clinics, specialty clinics, emergency medicine facilities and is home to the School of Veterinary Medicine at UW-Madison. Throw in a robust economy, higher incomes and a community filled with dogs and cats, and you have one of the best markets in the state to be a veterinarian. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Madison area had 280 veterinarians in 2017.
For Bach and Mache, the two had been involved with their own practices in Edgerton and Fitchburg respectively but formed a partnership in 2006 to open a joint practice near Bach’s home, just a few blocks from the Lakeview clinic, which is across the street from Lake Wingra. Bach grew up in Fox Point north of Milwaukee and graduated from UW-Madison and its School of Veterinary Medicine.
“Madison, per capita, probably has more (veterinary) specialists than any other city in the U.S.,” Bach said. “It’s just incredible how many options people have. If there’s something that’s more complicated it’s really easy for us to send them to an orthopedic person, soft-tissue surgeon, a neurologist, all those things. And you don’t even have to go to the vet school anymore because a lot of the specialty practices have oncologists, ophthalmologists and those kind of things. It’s really been great for us as practicing veterinarians.”
Monroe Street, which is in the midst of a major reconstruction project that has limited the corridor to just one lane of in-bound traffic, is also home to the Cat Cafe Mad, 1925 Monroe St., the state’s first coffee shop where customers pay to interact with cats and which opened in March 2016.
In November 2017, the business added crepes to help bolster the bottom line. The cat-only vet clinic adds to the neighborhood’s repertoire of services, which includes a wide range of locally owned retailers and restaurants.
Linda Henzl, who lives just a few blocks from the clinic, brought in her 5-year-old Siberian cat, Chuck, who it was determined had a blockage of his bladder. Bach first saw the cat in a quiet exam room as soft music played in the background. About 30 minutes later, Bach had Chuck on a table in the treatment room where he was anesthetized and catheterized to remove the blockage.
“I love having a place just for cats,” said Henzl. “It’s great cats have a place to come to where there are no dogs. It’s sad to see Mallatt’s close but change is inevitable.”