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Twisted Cafe Reopens, Plans Anniversary Party

Plus: Three new restaurants planned, Lazy Susan will close and Amped ramping up.

By - Jan 15th, 2023 12:49 pm

Twisted Cafe. This photo was taken July 29th, 2021 by Angeline Terry.

After a fraught finale to 2022, things are looking up at Twisted Cafe.

The American fusion restaurant and hookah lounge, 1505 N. Farwell Ave., was burglarized in early November 2022, forcing owner Melissa Latavong to close for the remainder of the month.

In addition to several bottles of liquor, a cash register and garbage can, thieves took the restaurant’s point-of-sale (POS) system. Without it, Latavong said she had no way to keep track of orders or accept payments from customers.

The restaurant reopened in early December — in time for holiday and celebrations. After ringing in the new year, the Latavong is gearing up for another celebration — the restaurant’s first anniversary.

The festivities are set for Saturday, Jan. 21 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will include live music by DJ Mulah and a giveaway raffle for free food, drink and hookah for two, plus a $100 gift card from truBeauty salon.

Between 10 a.m. and noon, attendees age 21 and over will receive a free mimosa.

This month, the restaurant will also introduce its loyalty punch card, which can be redeemed for a free meal after a set number of visits.

For more information, visit Twisted Cafe on Facebook.

Lazy Susan To Close in April

For nearly a decade, Lazy Susan has brought a quiet charm to its corner location at S. Howell Avenue and E. Smith Street — offering creative, seasonal plates, well-curated wine and cocktail lists and an ever-growing collection of unique salt-and-pepper shakers.

Fans of the fancy, but not fussy, eatery, 2378 S. Howell Ave., have three more months to stop in, as the restaurant will have its final day of service on April 8, 2023, the nine-year anniversary of its opening day.

Head chef and owner A.J. Dixon announced the upcoming closure in a newsletter Sunday night, explaining that a combination of the lingering economic impacts of the pandemic, inflation and her own mental health led to the decision.

“After nine years of sharing meals with you, I bring the unfortunate news that we have to close our doors,” the letter said. “I am not disappointed in what I accomplished the last nine years. I have made many new friends, helped the community, have great staff, made lists for best restaurants, and enjoyed seeing weddings, anniversaries, birthdays and showers here.”

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Sweetgreen Coming to Third Ward

The dreaded Sad Desk Lunch may soon be a distant memory for office-goers of the Historic Third Ward, as fast-casual salad restaurant Sweetgreen plans to open its first Milwaukee location at 310 E. Buffalo St.

According to a recently-filed license application, the restaurant is slated to open inside the former Hudson Business Lounge, bringing its seasonal grain bowls, salads and sides to the neighborhood. The business lounge operated for eight years before closing in April 2020 due to the pandemic.

The 3,100-square-foot, corner retail space shares an intersection with Edie Boutique, Anthropologie and a Verizon store. The building’s upper floors house residential and office space.

Milwaukee’s Sweetgreen is among a wave of upcoming locations planned for Wisconsin, marking the chain’s first venture into the state. Locations at The Corners of Brookfield and in Madison are expected to open this summer, according to a news release.

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Milwaukee’s First Scooter’s Coffee Planned for Southwest Side

A vacant lot in Milwaukee’s Green Moor neighborhood would become the site of the city’s first Scooter’s Coffee drive-thru under a new proposal.

The Omaha-based coffee and breakfast chain plans to expand its footprint with a new location near the intersection of W. Forest Home Ave. and S. 60th St. on a vacant site currently addressed as 6023-6141 W. Forest Home Ave.

A building permit review request indicates that a franchisee plans to construct a new, 664-square-foot building and 16-car drive-thru on the oddly-shaped lot. The future business would be flanked by AutoZone to the east and a pet training center and auto parts store to the west. A strip mall containing a coin laundromat, Anytime Fitness and several other businesses is located directly south.

Married couple Don and Linda Eckles founded Scooter’s in 1998. In the two decades since, the brand has grown to include more than 500 locations in 27 states. As part of a strategic growth plan, Scooter’s plans to build additional stores in 30 states, adding dozens of locations to its collection in 2023.

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Zoom Zooms and Wham Whams Coming to Teutonia Ave.

When Kell Kirk told his dad that he knew how to cook, the elder Kirk assumed he meant microwave noodles and cereal. You can imagine his astonishment, then, when he watched his son perform at a state-level culinary competition, effortlessly whipping up lamb chops, squash and a deconstructed peach cobbler.

“I was just so impressed with him,” said Kelly Kirk, who is a seasoned industry veteran himself, having gained experience at numerous restaurants throughout Houston, Chicago and his hometown of Milwaukee.

The father-son team is now planning to channel their combined culinary talents into their own restaurant, Zoom Zooms and Wham Whams, a takeout-only fast food restaurant that’s expected to open in February at 3800 N. Teutonia Ave., inside the former Sandwich God.

Sandwich God owner Michael “Bigg Mike” Smith was a friend, said Kelly. He plans to honor the former owner by offering a similar menu at the new restaurant.

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Amped Announces Grand Opening Weekend Events

Amped, a new Milwaukee karaoke bar and event space, is preparing to take the stage for its grand opening with a full lineup of activities, events and giveaways set for the weekend of Jan. 20.

Located at 910 W. Juneau Ave. in The Brewery District, the bar is the latest addition to Bar & Recreation’s collection of immersive entertainment establishments. The company also operates AXE MKE, Nine Below and NorthSouth Club.

Amped began its soft opening phase on Dec. 1., later welcoming guests for a reservation-only New Year’s Eve celebration.

The grand opening festivities are scheduled to kick off next Friday, Jan. 20 at 11:30 a.m. The first 100 visitors will receive a “swag bag” stocked with merchandise from Amped as well as its neighboring businesses and partners.

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At Random Will Overhaul Exterior, Maintain Interior Charm

When it comes to reviving historic Milwaukee taverns, nobody does it like John Dye. The cocktail expert and history enthusiast is the proprietor of several endeared establishments including Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge, The Jazz Estate and At Random, 2501 S. Delaware Ave.

After he acquired the latter from retired owners Ron and Shirley Zeller in 2019, Dye meticulously restored the 139-year-old building’s interior while maintaining its authenticity and charm. The process included new carpet and Naugahyde, upgraded systems, fresh paint, repairs and an overall deep clean.

With its vintage luster intact, Dye intended to move on to necessary repairs to the building’s exterior. But as 2020 dawned, we all know what came next. Funds that had been set aside for the exterior instead went towards building an outdoor patio to keep the tavern afloat through the turbulent months ahead.

Three years later, Dye is poised to pick up where he left off, with the exterior renovation set to commence this winter.

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Halliday’s Pub Does An Irish Goodbye

Halliday’s Irish Pub, a long-standing dive bar in the Lower East Side neighborhood, has closed with nary a parting word. The family-owned bar’s Irish goodbye comes after a more than 50-year run near the busy intersection of N. Farwell Avenue and E. Brady Street.

The bar, marked online as permanently closed, has been out of business for several months, at minimum. Its most recent online user review is dated July 2022. Precisely when it closed is unknown.

Located at 1729 N. Farwell Ave., the building was originally constructed as a residential dwelling, and has held a collection of businesses and taverns throughout its century-long lifespan. It became Halliday’s in 1967, when Robert K. “Bobby” Halliday and Gus Kelepouris, related by marriage, bought the place for $30,000.

After Halliday’s 2006 death, ownership of the business and its building were passed to his wife, Rosemary Maniscalco-Halliday, and step-daughter, Gina Marie.

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Steak and Potato Restaurant Coming To 27th Street

If the past 30 years in the restaurant industry have taught Osama Abushanab anything, it’s that life will at some point give you lemons.

After a decade of operating a successful restaurant, 76 Steak & Potatoes, at 7601 W. Hampton Ave., Abushanab’s landlord opted not to renew his lease at the address. The business now operates without Abushanab.

“I started from scratch in that location,” he said. “And then when the landlord saw how successful I was, he just wanted the building to do his own in there, I guess.”

“I put blood, sweat, almost lost my family — that’s how many hours I used to put in here. And now he’s just going to come and take it like, ‘hey, your lease is up.’ You know, it’s the law. I can do nothing about it.”

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Dream Dance Steakhouse Returns To Potawatomi Hotel & Casino

After a three-year hiatus, Potawatomi Hotel & Casino is gearing up to welcome guests back to one of its signature restaurants, Dream Dance Steakhouse.

The upscale eatery, which has been closed since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, is set to reopen Wednesday, Jan. 18.

Dream Dance Steakhouse is located on the ground floor of the casino, 1721 W. Canal St.

The restaurant plans to pick up where it left off, offering high-quality steaks, seafood and pasta, as well as more than 400 global wine selections including 20 available by the glass.

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Gathering Place Introduces Small Batch Fridays

We’ve all heard the phrase TGIF — usually accompanied by nods of agreement and contented sighs when uttered at the end of a particularly long week. As mid-January approaches, and with it, the peak of the post-holiday slump, one Riverwest brewery is offering a new, spirit-lifting program that may leave customers saying TGPIF: thank Gathering Place its Friday.

This Friday, the brewery will introduce its new, Small Batch Friday program, releasing new and innovative beers each week at its taprooms in Riverwest, 811 E. Vienna Ave., and Wauwatosa, 7208 W. North Ave.

The beers will be part of the brewery’s pilot brewing system, which makes one barrel of beer, or two large kegs per batch. The beers will only be available on draft at the taprooms.

The program welcomes feedback and suggestions from guests, with the goal of enhancing communication and connection with taproom visitors.

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Restaurant Jerez Opens in Walker’s Point

Residents of Walker’s Point may recognize the building at 828 S. 1st St. as the home of the VIP Lounge, a troubled nightclub that flouted the city’s COVID-19 requirements and was the site of several shootings before surrendering its license in late 2021.

In its departure, the former nightclub left behind a run-down building, blackout windows and another vacant storefront on the bustling S. 1st Street thoroughfare. But where others saw a neighborhood blight, Platon Peña Delgado saw an opportunity to fulfill a lifelong family dream while bringing new life to the neglected building.

After months of hard work, Peña Delgado, along with his wife and co-owner, Martha Acosta Ramirez, and their children, opened Restaurant Jerez, a Mexican eatery specializing in seafood dishes.

The lunch-and-dinner restaurant began its soft opening in late 2022, welcoming guests into its newly-renovated and spacious dining room.

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Hustling Chef Building Virtual Empire From Downtown Food Hall

It’s been said that variety is the spice of life, but one local chef is on a mission to prove that it’s also the secret ingredient to success — at least at Paper Table.

In November 2022, Kamal Shkoukani hatched his first concept, Secret Hot Chicken, at the ghost kitchen-style food hall, 733-737 N. Milwaukee St.

Thanks in part to its social media buzz, the restaurant “got off to an explosive start,” according to Shkoukani. “We have a good following already behind us and a lot of support, so we’re doing well.”

But the chef and business owner didn’t stop there. The following month, he added two additional concepts to his collection, Evil Slice cake shop and soon-to-open Crooks Chicken & Waffles.

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Bombay Sweets Has Big Menu, Big Tastes

In a city where an ordinary burger costs between $10.00 and $15.00, it’s a joy to discover a restaurant where you can fill a plate for less than $10.00. At Bombay Sweets, an Indian-Pakistani restaurant on S. 13th just a ways south of Oklahoma Ave., the meals are healthy, vegetarian/vegan, and the number of choices will leave your head spinning. It’s also a bakery with a large selection of cookies and other sweets, complementing the restaurant with that very lengthy menu.

Yet it’s a bare bones operation. You order at the counter and when your order is ready you pick it up at the counter. There are no servers. When you finish, you deposit your disposable plate in the trash.

From the extensive menu, exactly 120 choices, don’t skip past #1, the Samosa, a turnover filled with a spicy mix of potato and peas. It comes with a portion of Mint Chutney and Tamarind Chutney, sauces that tamped down the heat in the filling and added a sweet, spicy edge to the samosa, a tasty crispy treat, with or without the sauces.

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