Sophie Bolich

South Side Cafe Targets College Students

Precious Vibes plans a relaxing atmosphere to study with healthy snacks, to open early next year.

By - Dec 6th, 2022 09:55 am
3954-3956 S. Howell Ave., Pat's Niche Pub and Grub. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

3954-3956 S. Howell Ave., Pat’s Niche Pub and Grub. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Before launching her own marketing company, overhauling the COVID-19 business plan of her dad’s wholesale business and working several jobs in the restaurant industry, Kristine Gomez Delatorre was a college student. And though she preferred to study in public places, Starbucks was never really her scene.

Now, the young business owner is taking steps to offer an alternative spot to support both the health and the GPA of local students.

Ahead of the spring semester, Gomez Delatorre plans to open Precious Vibes, a cafe and study space where college students can enjoy healthy snacks, find community and complete assignments.

The cafe is planned for 3956 S. Howell Ave., in the space formerly used by Pat’s Niche Pub and Grub, which closed earlier this fall. Prior to that, the building housed Ho Ho’s Chinese restaurant.

Rather than alcohol, the bar at Precious Vibes would serve smoothies, juice and freshly-cut fruit cups. For a more substantial option, the cafe would offer three variations of potatoes: loaded baked potato, loaded fries and a deep-fried tornado potato, a Korean street food that has gained popularity at events such as the Wisconsin State Fair.

“Everybody likes potatoes,” said Gomez Delatorre, who noted that the toppings for each dish are fully customizable.

“I know I would’ve loved a place like this where I could go do homework,” said Gomez Delatorre, adding that she much prefers orange and carrot juice to coffee, which makes her jittery and anxious. “If you’re offering me fresh juice, I’d be in heaven just doing my homework, having a good time, you know? That’s really what Precious Vibes is.”

Still in the planning stages for the upcoming business, the Alverno College graduate said she has been consulting with students from her alma mater about what they’d like to see at the new cafe, which is located just over three miles east of the college.

One group of students told Gomez Delatorre that they’d like the option to sign a form upon entering the cafe stipulating that they can’t leave until a certain assignment is finished.

“I’m trying to do my best to cater to them and their needs,” she said. “Because I know I used to be a huge procrastinator, and that’s where I’m like, ‘okay, I would love something like that,'” she added.

Gomez Delatorre said she has heard of similar practices in other states, but not in Wisconsin.

The cafe would also provide a space for students to practice presentations, group projects, or for clubs and extracurricular meetings. A license for the business also indicates that the space could be used for community events such as comedy acts and poetry readings.

Precious Vibes would occupy a also owns an approximately 20-space parking lot located immediately south of the structure.

Gomez Delatorre said she is not planning any construction in the 4,154-square-foot building, though the future decor will be a far cry from the vintage style favored by the previous occupants.

“We’re big purple people,” Gomez Delatorre said. “It’s all purple, everything’s purple,” she added, noting that the vibe would be calm and relaxing.

In addition to planning the new cafe, Gomez Delatorre is the owner of Precious Marketing. Through her company, she works closely with Milwaukee-area businesses including Holy Smoke and Nunu’s Hot Bargains in Greenfield.

She also has seven years of restaurant industry experience, having worked numerous positions at establishments including Genesis Family Restaurant, Cubanitas in Oak Creek and others.

A license for the business is pending a review by the Common Council. If she is approved, Gomez Delatorre said she hopes to open the cafe by the start of the spring semester in early January.

Following its launch, Precious Vibes plans to be open daily from 10 a.m. until 2 a.m.

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