More Whiskey for Milwaukee
Two new bars opening, and serving plenty of that heady elixir.
Yes, Wisconsin has long been the most brandy-loving state in America, where an Old Fashioned is served with brandy, and Korbel sells like crazy. But the state is changing and embracing more trendy drinks, like martinis and, yes, whiskey. So two new bars are going with the flow.
Van Buren’s Whiskey Bar & Grill
As we reported back in December, the owners of this planned bar were doing significant renovations of the old Libby’s Lounge at 1682 N. Van Buren St. The new bar, Van Buren’s Whiskey Bar & Grill, will serves classic pub grub and has a variety of drink options on offer, although its bread and butter is, of course, whiskey. The bar had a soft opening on February 27 which did not disappoint, at least according to Van Buren’s official Facebook page. A number of guests posted glowing reviews.
Van Buren’s interior is simple and spare, with an open and roomy arrangement; Several tables dot the outer wall, while over a dozen stools are arranged around a central bar: the perfect setup for a busy night off Brady Street. Expect a grand opening celebration sometime this month.
We reported last month that the building at 1517 S. 2nd Street – formerly home to The Parlor, The Bomb Shelter, and The Monkey Bar – would soon have a new tenant, named in honor of owner Matthew Sherman’s Air Force boxer of a father. The wait finally ended last Thursday as Junior’s Hook celebrated its soft opening. Sherman is still putting the finishing touches on the bar’s interior, which he envisions as a “punk rock” homage to boxing.
The décor may be punk, but the drink menu is nothing but classic, with the variety of bottle and tap beers you expect of a Milwaukee bar, and a satisfying assortment of yes, whiskey. Sherman is a veteran of the local bar scene, according to OnMilwaukee.com, and worked ten years at Champion’s Pub on Bartlett Ave. before opening Junior’s. Sherman says he aims to respect the long history of the place while adding his own unique, “punk rock” edge.
New Pita Pit Opening
A Starbuck’s closed this month on Oklahoma Ave. We know, that’s tragic. But it’s not all bad – Pita Pit franchisee Andrew Culp has you covered, according to the Milwaukee Business Journal. Culp, who already owns Pita Pit franchises on Farwell and in the Railway Exchange Building, and a third in Madison, just leased the former Starbuck’s space for Milwaukee’s third location, with a planned opening in May.
The chain originates in Ontario, Canada, and markets itself as a healthy fast food option for the customer looking for a quick bite on the go. The outlets allow customers to build their own meal; protein and vegetables are grilled before their eyes, and then stuffed into a flour or wheat pita with the customer’s choice of veggies and sauce. Smoothies, salads, and soup are also available on the menu.
Brookfield Square’s New Eats
Millions of dollars in renovations are making space for three new restaurants at Brookfield Square mall. The new eateries, located away from the food court, are Jason’s Deli and Blackfinn Ameripub. The third, Mooyah Burger, is a national burger chain with deep roots in Texas, which plans to open 10 franchises in Wisconsin, as we’ve previously reported.
The Business Journal reports the latest renovations are part of the first phase of two scheduled for the Brookfield mall. Many more stores can be expected by year’s end, and more still by the time the second phase ends in 2018. Whether that will include more new restaurants remains to be seen — and reported here.
Blue Jacket Now Serving Lunch
It’s official; Blue Jacket is now open for lunch. As of today, the Walker’s Point supper joint will debut a mid-day menu featuring soups, salads, and sandwiches, as OnMilwaukee.com has reported. The menu will feature entrees like well-garnished steak sandwiches and bacon- and cheese-laden burgers, and more, all with a choice of soup, salad, or fries.
A new happy hour menu debuts alongside lunch, Fredrich told OMC. For a price ranging from $4 to $8, guests can munch on a range of bar snacks designed by Chef Justice Neal. Options include beer-battered cheese curds, Brussels sprouts, and a pickle plate. Happy hour also features half-price drafts and wine, and $5 cocktails.
Lunch will be served Tuesday through Friday starting at 11am and ending at 3pm. Dinner will be served until 10pm. Weekend hours are Saturdays only: dinner will be served 5pm to 10pm.
The legendary piano lounge at 1686 N. Van Buren, a few doors down from the new Van Buren’s Whiskey Bar, is up for lease. Angelo Mortellaro, Sr. is leasing the space due to continuing health problems. He founded Angelo’s Lounge in 1984. The bar has served for 30 years as a popular meeting place where people and performers from across the city can come together. “It’s about the magic, the harmony of music and wonderful people,” states Angelo’s website. “The music here is like nowhere else. It creates magical feelings that tinge your soul.”
Local filmmaker Kara Mulrooney paid homage to the lounge in her short film, An Evening at Angelo’s, which appeared in the Milwaukee Film Festival last year. According to OnMilwaukee’s Molly Snyder, several local bar owners are interested in taking over the tavern.
Shaky Future for Einstein Bagels?
Einstein Bros. Bagels is a bagel colossus, “the largest operator of bagel bakeries in the U.S.” with more than “800 company owned, licensed and franchised locations,” according to the company website, in the U.S. But the giant has stumbled: its corporate parent, Einstein Noah Restaurant Group Inc., has shut down “39 underperforming restaurants, effective Tuesday, February 24, 2015,” according to the Business Journal.
Of those 39 closures, two were in Madison. Milwaukee’s three Einstein Bros. are safe for now, we’re told, but clearly the earth is rumbling beneath a bagel behemoth, so more changes could hit the streets of America.