Michael Holloway
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The Return of Comet Cafe

Plus: Nonfiction Wines gets bigger. Daily Bird grabs Fuel Cafe space. Crumbl Cookies comes to Bay Shore

By - Nov 1st, 2021 04:40 pm
Comet Cafe. Photo by Cari Taylor-Carlson.

Comet Cafe. Photo by Cari Taylor-Carlson.

It’s back. Comet Cafe, a long-time Milwaukee staple that has been indefinitely closed for a little over a year now will be revived under new ownership. Known for its hip, diner-esque vibe and slow-cooked foods like its signature meatloaf sandwich, Comet will reopen under Valeri Lucks, the owner of Honeypie, Palomino and SmallPie. Lucks’ business partner in the venture is Derek Petersen.

When Comet Cafe closed in July 2020, employees said the former owners, Scott Johnson and Leslie Montemurro, shut down the restaurant when they got word that its employees were attempting to unionize. Montemurro disputed those claims, stating that the closure was strictly for financial reasons. Lucks and her brother Adam Lucks operated Comet Cafe from 2005 to 2015. But the other restaurants owned by Valeri Lucks have embraced a “One Fair Wage” movement. Both front-of-house and back-of-house workers are paid a base rate that is “well-exceeding the full minimum wage.” As for how the restaurant will change menu-wise, Sarah Hauer has the story

The new owners plan to reopen Comet Cafe sometime in winter 2022.

“We will be keeping the food, the drinks — everything very much the same,” Lucks said in the news release. “My late father helped us build the bar, my brother and friends built the booths, counter and tables that are still there. Much of that menu we created in 2005 ourselves. We are excited to return to it.”

…When it reopens, Comet Cafe will serve pie from the Honeypie Bakeshop.

Nonfiction Natural Wines Moving to Bigger Store

Nonfiction Natural Wines, a Bay View wine shop, has plans to move into a bigger storefront, allowing the store to pour wines, offer snacks and allow customers to hang out and enjoy themselves. The shop currently operates at 800 E. Potter Ave., but will move into a retail space on the first floor of the newly constructed BV+ building. Nonfiction Natural Wines is aiming to open at its new location at 2563 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. by February 2022. Carol Deptolla reports

Nonfiction’s inventory of wines has nearly doubled since it opened, to about 300 in its 550 square feet on Potter. Bottles from the around the world have this in common: They’re all made with minimal intervention.

Nonfiction would keep about the same number of wines on hand in the new space, perhaps even trimmed a bit. Kruse said, though, that she expects the selection would turn over more often, since customers will be able to buy wine by the glass or open a bottle, with a corkage fee. 

The couple will carve out a distinct retail space at the wide-open new location, with a separate area for the bar and tables along a banquette, plus a lounge area for customers. It also will have a 600-square-foot patio.

Crumbl Cookies Coming to Bayshore

Crumbl Cookies, a gourmet cookie chain, is opening another Wisconsin location as part of a rapid statewide expansion project. Joining six other Milwaukee area Crumbl Cookies locations, the new business will take over the former Fiddleheads Coffee Roasters spot near Bayshore Mall’s south entrance. Maredithe Meyer reports

The chain serves a weekly rotating menu of four specialty cookie flavors (out of its 120-plus repertoire), in addition to its mainstay Milk Chocolate Chip and Chilled Sugar cookies. Cookies are baked fresh in-house daily and are available for takeout, curbside-pick up, delivery, and catering. Nationally, the Utah-based brand has more than 221 locations in 34 states…

Crumbl Cookies is among a new wave of tenants recently opened or announced at Bayshore amid the property’s ongoing revitalization. Target opened last week in the former Boston Store space. Other recent milestones include renovations to the rotunda area, a new Total Wine & More store and a renovated town square, called The Yard. Hundreds of new apartment units are under construction, and a Culver’s restaurant is planned on the north side of the property.

Daily Bird Moving Into Old Fuel Cafe

For months, The Daily Bird, a pop-up coffee shop, has operated out of a takeout window at Centro Cafe in the Riverwest Neighborhood. Now, the pop-up will have a home of its own at the former Fuel Cafe spot located at 808 E. Center St. The new cafe aims to open by mid-November. Graham Kilmer reports

What can customers of The Daily Bird expect from the new cafe? “Indoor seating, heating, air conditioning, wifi,” (Owner Dan) Zwart noted. These weren’t possible before when the business was operating from a walk up window and the only seating was a set of tables and chairs on the sidewalk.

The new expanded space will also allow them to expand the menu of drinks and bakery goods on offer. And long term, given that the Fuel space has a kitchen, there may be additional food options, Zwart added.

The cafe also has plans to begin serving Scratch Ice Cream, which is a Milwaukee-based small-batch ice cream producer. For now, though, the cafe is waiting on delivery of a large ice cream cooler.

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