Sophie Bolich

New Cafe Open in Brewery District

Boiler House Cafe serves Valentine coffee and local bakery, invests in community.

By - Jul 29th, 2022 12:12 pm

Friday Flight from Boiler House Cafe. Photo courtesy of Iran Amandah.

When Iran Amandah was in the planning stage of opening his first cafe, he had three goals in mind: support local businesses, give back to the community and create a long-lasting brand.

After one month in business, he has already accomplished the first two and is laying a foundation for the third.

Amandah opened Boiler House Cafe at the end of June. The cafe is located in the Brewery District, a section of the Westown neighborhood. It’s named for the building’s historic function of heating the water for the Pabst brewery.

The cafe serves hot and iced coffee and espresso drinks using Valentine Coffee Roasters beans. A selection of teas are available, as well as signature summer drinks like lavender lemonade.

This week the cafe will debut its new coffee flights. Dubbed Friday Flights, the concept will offer a sampling of miniature cafe beverages like cold-foam topped cold brew, s’mores latte, salted caramel macchiato and matcha lemonade.

Baked goods, sourced from Grebe’s Bakery and Peter Sciortino Bakery, include scones, croissants, apple fritters, old fashioned doughnuts and chocolate chip cookies.

Heartier options including a Santa Fe chicken wrap and quinoa salad are new additions to the menu this week. Later on, Amandah said he plans to offer more breakfast items including a ham and cheese breakfast sandwich.

“Our mission was that we wanted this to remain a kind of local flavor,” Amandah said.

His dedication to supporting local goes beyond the menu, too. The cafe donates 5% of its profits to local nonprofits. The first recipient will be The Community, an organization that works to connect formerly incarcerated people with tools and resources.

The cafe will focus on one nonprofit per year, Amandah said. As the business expands, he said he wants to add more organizations to the program.

The long term goal is to open multiple cafes within the city, state and eventually region, Amandah said. “As we begin to expand, we’ll go through our process for how we select which nonprofits we’re going to be working with, and we’ll add some to the mix,” he said.

When Amandah first toured the area that would become his new cafe, “it was just raw space,” he said, noting a plain, concrete floor and the city’s signature cream-colored brick.

“If you see it now, most people say ‘wow, I can’t believe this space was just completely raw,'” he said.

The buildout for the 1,100-square-foot space, creating an industrial look with modern amenities and feel, cost about $250,000, Amandah said. The cafe’s centerpiece, a 10-foot-long, live-edge wooden table, has a “river of coffee beans” flowing through it. On the table, there are modern charging stations that can either pop up as an outlet or operate flat as wireless charging pads.

The cafe seats about 22 inside and up to 14 on the sidewalk patio.

Built in 1844, the original boiler house structure was destroyed in an explosion, which also killed a man, in 1909. The building was later converted to offices during the redevelopment of the surrounding neighborhood, which brought apartments, hotels, restaurants, taverns, event spaces, retail, breweries and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health to the area.

The cafe will be Amandah’s first venture into the restaurant industry. He holds multiple degrees in finance from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and is the founder of the alternative investment fund, L.R.L. Capital.

“That is my passion,” Amandah said of his company. “That has been a long term vision of mine.” The cafe is more of a personal project, he said. Amandah said he handles the financial side of the cafe, and manager Brittiany Matthews, who was previously with Starbucks, takes care of day-to-day operations.

Amandah said he wants to use the cafe to showcase that “we’re a small city, but we have big, grand ideas that we can execute.”

“Although I wasn’t born in Milwaukee, I consider it home because I was raised here,” Amandah said. “And so this is my way of giving back, but also building something that could last.”

The cafe, 1259 N. 10th St., is open Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Friday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The Boiler House is one of three coffee shops in the redeveloped Brewery District. Café Nō, located inside Nō Studios, is a block to the west and Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery is located a few blocks away at 915 W. Juneau Ave.

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