Sophie Bolich

New Owner Buys Tony’s BBQ Unlimited

Local barbeque restaurateur will continue to operate restaurant under same name.

By - Nov 18th, 2022 05:11 pm
Tony's Unlimited. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Tony’s Unlimited. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The fate of Tony’s BBQ Unlimited has been hanging in the balance for the past months, following former owner Anthony “Tony” Sephus‘s decision to sell the restaurant. But a recently-filed application indicates that the 30-year-old business will continue after all.

Restaurateur Brandalynn Cheatham would take over operations at Tony’s, 3510 W. Villard Ave. Cheatham, who is also the registered agent for Ashley’s Bar-B-Que, 1501 W. Center St., paid $96,000 for the turnkey business, according to the license application.

Sephus decided last summer to sell the business and begin his retirement. The restaurant has remained open during the search for a new owner.

Throughout its tenure in the Old North Milwaukee neighborhood, the no-frills, counter-service establishment garnered a loyal fan base for its traditional barbeque, classic sides and soul food buffet.

Cheatham is now poised to inherit that following, with few changes planned for the neighborhood favorite. As new owner, she would continue to operate the restaurant under the same name. Additionally, there are no plans at this time for construction or remodeling to the site.

One change Cheatham will implement is the addition of an alcohol program, which wasn’t included in the previous business plan. If granted a liquor license, Cheatham expects to generate 30% of revenue from alcohol sales and 70% from food sales.

The restaurant will continue to offer catering and delivery under its new owner, also adding on-site dining.

The new lease is set to begin January 1, 2023, with the business expected to open Jan. 15. Cheatham is guaranteed occupancy at the site for at least 30 years according to her application.

A limited liability company affiliated with Sephus owns the 1,144-square-foot building. Two upstairs apartments were originally offered as part of the Tony’s sale, but no state real estate transfer records have been posted indicating the property has been sold. The license says Cheatham will lease the space for $2,000 per month.

Starting Jan. 15, Tony’s proposed hours would be Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from noon until 8 p.m.

The restaurant’s current hours are Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., though online reviews indicate that the business may not always adhere to that schedule. Tony’s is currently cash-only.

Cheatham did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication.

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