Taverns

New Downtown Cocktail Lounge Opening

XO Cocktail Lounge on E. Mason St. will also feature small plates dining and live music.

By - Jun 30th, 2018 12:49 pm
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326 E. Mason St. Photo by Dave Reid.

326 E. Mason St. Photo by Dave Reid.

A new upscale lounge is in the works for Downtown, with an official opening anticipated before the end of summer.

XO Cocktail Lounge is expected to open on Aug. 1 in the former 42 Lounge space at 326 E. Mason St. On June 26, the lounge, which operates under X-O, LLC, was approved for Class B Tavern, Public Entertainment Premises, Food Dealer and Sidewalk Dining licenses by the City of Milwaukee Licenses Committee. The cocktail lounge will be located on the first floor of the Colby Abbot Building, and there will be outdoor seating available.

Owner Larry Taylor previously owned a number of retail stores and has past bartending experience as well. Taylor is currently speaking with two candidates for a full-time managing position at the bar. One candidate has 15 years of experience while the other has ten.

The eatery will focus largely on small plates, appetizers and signature cocktails. XO Cocktail Parlor will be an upscale lounge with an “opulent aesthetic appeal,” and there will be no dance floor. “I’m just trying to bring a little balance to the area,” said Taylor at the license committee meeting. “I’m trying to stay as far away from a nightclub vibe as possible.”

According to XO’s license application, the lounge will feature a variety of entertainment, including musicians, projected films, poetry readings and DJs. XO will coordinate with promoters to feature young professional networks. The building’s landlord, Patti Keating Kahn, says the occasional live music will emphasize local jazz and blues, but will not be loud. “[Taylor] wants to serve the community and have it be a place to have local talent showcase their work,” said Keating Kahn. 

Everything from the bar to the kitchen area will be remodeled with the help of the Riverwest-based company, Flux Design. Natural light will be brought in through two skylights, and the space will keep the wood-coffered ceilings original to the building. The furniture and finishes will be elegant and traditional. “It will be a really nice sort of embellishment to the original luxury of the building,” said Keating Kahn. “It’s really going to enhance the historic bones and real character.” 

Keating Kahn is confident in Taylor’s ability to bring a “unique experience” to the downtown central business district. “[Taylor] has crossed every T and dotted every I,” she said. “He really knows how to put a business plan together.”

The space will be available to reserve for special events such as fundraisers and community gatherings. Business hours are still being developed. XO Cocktail Lounge will be closed Monday, Tuesday and possibly Wednesday, according to Keating Kahn, but more hours will be added once the business opens and gets more of a following.

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