Top 10 Dining Stories of 2017
What did readers most care about? The results may surprise you.
It was another big year for Milwaukee’s dining scene. The number and quality of area restaurants and bars has exploded since the Great Recession and show no sign of slowing down. That’s not a guarantee of business success, though, for with many a grand opening comes a quiet closing. Our weekly Now Serving recaps all of the week’s dining news, a convenient feature for those that might otherwise get whiplash trying to keep up.
How did the city’s scene change in 2017? Take a look at our ten most popular Now Serving columns of last year, and you’ll see all the trends, triumphs and triage.
Given the hoopla surrounding its grand opening, it’s hard to believe the announcement that Shake Shack was coming to the Historic Third Ward wasn’t the number one story of the year. Yet our May 11th column announcing its opening barely made the cut on our list of the top ten most read Now Serving columns of the year. The column was buoyed by news of a new Stone Creek Coffee cafe coming to the Upper East Side and the announcement of Strange Town replacing Allium on the Lower East Side. Read more.
Mid-February brought good news for downtown residents, workers and visitors. Doc’s Commerce Smokehouse opened in the SpringHill Suites Hotel in Westown. Our coverage didn’t mention the smoked and deep fried chicken wings, but make sure to try some and you won’t be disappointed. Doc’s wasn’t the only restaurant to open in Westown that week, Pizzeria San Giorgia opened at 833 N. Old World 3rd St. The pizzeria, another outpost for Calderone Club owner Gino Fazzari, serves up Neapolitan-style pizzas baked in 70-90 seconds in a wood-burning oven. Read more.
April saw the opening of Thai Lotus in Riverwest. The Riverwest location at 1000 E. Locust St. is the second for the Milwaukee restaurant. The other location in Silver City has been a go-to south side restaurant for years. The March 22nd column by Matthew Musa included a lot of other news that has taken some time to come to fruition. Red June Cafe announced a May opening on N. Jefferson St., but didn’t open until a few weeks ago. Likewise, a new tavern planned for 324 W. State St. in Westown has yet to move forward. Read more.
Now that hundreds, if not thousands, of people live on the N. Water St. just north of Downtown, businesses are starting to take notice. The latest entry to the area is Birch + Butcher, which just opened a few weeks ago. Our early August column by Alexandra Mucks announcing the impending butcher shop and restaurant was our 7th most popular Now Serving column of the year. Read more.
April brought a wave of good news to the Lower East Side. Dorsia was announced for the Mimma’s Cafe space on E. Brady St. and Yokohama 1910 was announced for the former Yield tavern space on E. Kenilworth Pl. On the south end of Downtown, Broken Bat Brewing Co. opened in the Historic Third Ward and The Love Shack was announced for the former Wine Maniacs space in Walker’s Point. Read more.
Early November brought a wave of new restaurant announcements. A Mexican restaurant, 2 Mesa, was announced for 4110 W. Martin Dr. National chain Blaze Pizza announced a new location near UW-Milwaukee. And Milwaukee’s preeminent Pakistani restaurant, Shah Jee’s, announced their intent to open two more restaurants by the end of the year. Korean restaurant Char’d was announced for the former Hinterland space in the Historic Third Ward, and just a few blocks from that Sweet Diner opened it door. Read more.
Brady Street didn’t have to wait long for a replacement for Bosley on Brady. The seafood restaurant was replaced by The Diplomat this summer. The restaurant bills itself as a “friendly outpost for American standbys with a contemporary edge plus inventive cocktails.” But the real big news of the week might have appeared a bit more mundane at a glance. Cermak Fresh Market grocery store opened near the corner of S. 1st St. and E. Greenfield Ave. in Walker’s Point, an area sorely lacking a grocery store. Read more.
Our dining coverage isn’t limited just to the city proper. Our April 5th installment drew big readership with very little city news. Texas de Brazil announced a new location in Mayfair Mall. 9th Slice Pizza Co. was announced for a Highway 100 location in Hales Corners. And Potbelly opened a sandwich shop in Oak Creek’s Drexel Town Square. Read more.
2. Maison Comes to Washington Heights
The number two Now Serving column, written by Matthew Musa, covered a number of openings across the city. Most notably, Maison, a French restaurant, which opened at 5921 W. Vliet St. in the city’s Washington Heights neighborhood. Oconomowoc restaurant Crafty Cow also announced a second location in Bay View, and Fuel Cafe opened in Walker’s Point. Read more.
The most read Now Serving column in 2017 was also the first Now Serving column of 2017. The column, written by Emily Thome, centered on the carnage that defined the Milwaukee dining scene as the year turned. Most of the closings were confined to the Brady Street area, with Cempazuchi, Mimma’s Cafe and Trocadero all announcing their closing. The other big closure was Midwest Diner in Bay View, a sign of the changing demographics and tastes of the south side neighborhood. Here’s hoping that 2018 won’t spell the end of another round of Milwaukee restaurants. Read more.