The Settle Down is a Madison tavern for the moment, for better and for worse. The better is following up that smash burger with Mink’s “grandma’s pudding,” ($8), like a chocolate version of Papavero’s ultra-creamy budino, or starting with a Feel Good Veggie Seltzer ($6). It tastes like cold-pressed juice from Saints Juice Company, intensely fresh and bright, plus a little fizz.

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The Settle Down Tavern opened at 117 S. Pinckney St. on May 26. 

The worse, of course, is having to open in the midst of a pandemic. Huber, Bartels and Parker interviewed staff over Facetime or with masks on, then had to pump the brakes as Madison’s outbreak worsened.

[Sanitizing on the hour, restaurants adapt to pandemic dining]

“We sent an email to potential employees, ‘We don’t know when we’ll need you,’” Huber said. Right now, it’s just the three owners, Mink and an assistant kitchen director running an abbreviated kitchen. It’s small enough that on Fridays, during fish fry, the burger’s not available.

“We had a big discussion — how can we do it with no staff?” Huber said. “How can we do it without any dine-in business? From an ordering perspective, how do you project what to order, both food and beverage, when you have no idea when you’re going to actually have people inside?”

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