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Go Grocer Opens in Third Ward

Plus: Farewell to Flannery's, The Spice House, E&F Pizzeria and Gülden Room Cafe.

By - Jan 29th, 2023 12:50 pm
Edgar (left) and Johnny Rivera of GoGrocer MKE, 926 W. Juneau Ave. Photo taken Jan. 27, 2023 by Sophie Bolich.

Edgar (left) and Johnny Rivera of GoGrocer MKE, 415 E. Menomonee St. Photo taken Jan. 27, 2023 by Sophie Bolich.

The first Milwaukee location for Go Grocer officially opened its doors in the Historic Third Ward neighborhood on Friday, Jan. 27.

The small-format grocery store, located at the base of the Gaslight Lofts building, 415 E. Menomonee St., asserted its presence with a column of colorful balloons at its entrance.

Inside, customers will find all the intrigue and polish of an upscale grocery store, condensed into a 2,430-square-foot retail space.

Shelves of fresh produce, pantry staples and microwaveable meals include vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free offerings, while a cooler stocked with prepared sandwiches, salads, fresh-cut fruit and bites such as hard boiled eggs and stuffed grape leaves provides a convenient option for grab-and-go meals. The store also offers a variety of fair trade chocolate bars, candy, coffee and tea, beer, wine and liquor, as well as a freezer section featuring ice cream, fruit, pizza and more.

An assortment of household goods, paper products, toiletries and office supplies are also available.

Throughout the late morning and afternoon approximately 80 customers stopped in to check out the new store, including several upstairs neighbors, nearby residents and serendipitous passersby.

Co-owners Edgar and Johnny Rivera greeted each one warmly, noting that they hope to know each regular by name as soon as possible.

“This community is amazing,” said Johnny Rivera. “The Third Ward is like a big family and we’re really glad that we’ve been able to become a part of it.”

GoGrocer MKE’s inventory includes the top 40 grocery items, as well as a selection of local and specialty products. In the near future, Johnny Rivera said he hopes to expand the cheese section to include freshly made cheese curds from the Cedar Crest factory.

He also welcomes community input, and plans to launch an online form for customers to submit particular items they’d like the store to carry.

The form will be available via the GoGrocer app.

UPDATE: An earlier version of this article included the address for the second Go Grocer location, which will open in The Brewery District in the coming months. We regret the confusion.

Three Vendors Exiting North Avenue Market

S’Blendid Boba Tea has announced a closing date for its North Avenue Market cafe. The final day for the tea shop and Korean sandwich restaurant will be Sunday, Jan. 29. Two other vendors are also leaving the market as part of what the founder describes as a “reset.”

“When you launch something, there are a lot of pieces. And so there have been some wonderful things that have happened and there have been some opportunities that we’ve had to enhance what we’re able to bring into our neighborhood,” said market founder Chris Harris Morse in an interview. “And in doing that, there are some changes that we will be implementing and looking at.”

After five months in operation at the market, S’Blendid Malee Thao said, the business simply outgrew its 82-square-foot space. She said S’Blendid is joined in its departure by fellow vendors Fresh Farm Bowls and Arty’s Sweet Talk Cupcakes.

“We’re looking to operate more limitlessly,” said Thao. “My decision was really led upon how we could make this work long-term for our customers.”

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Mr. Dye’s Pies Opens 3rd Street Market Hall Stand

If you can sell someone a mutual fund, you can easily sell them a pecan pie. At least, that’s what Johnathan Dye tells himself.

The investment-salesman-turned-bakery-owner has spent the past decade building a loyal following for his business, Mr. Dye’s Pies. And after enduring a trying two-year spell, he’s back up and running at its new location inside 3rd Street Market Hall, 275 W. Wisconsin Ave.

Like many small businesses, Dye’s Pies missed out on farmers market sales during the pandemic. To stay afloat, Dye started selling Irish sea moss gel and elderberry syrup while leaning on pie deliveries, but the business took another hit about a year ago, when the building that housed his commercial kitchen space was sold to a new owner that tripled the rent.

Dye briefly relocated to a commercial kitchen at 8103 W. Tower Ave., but was again forced to leave in August, at which point he decided to take a step back, closing down the business for five months.

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Phobruary Highlights Near South Side Restaurants

February is fast approaching, and with it, the return of Phobruary. Now in its 10th year, the month-long event invites Milwaukeeans to support local restaurants and celebrate Vietnamese culture while indulging in comforting bowls of rice noodle soup.

VIA CDC hosts the annual event, which will expand this year to include an additional neighborhood.

“‘Phobruary’ is an initiative promoting awareness for the local restaurants in Milwaukee’s near south side,” said the community organization in a statement. “It has been a tradition that has taken place in Silver City, and this year VIA is excited to welcome the Layton Park neighborhood!”

Phobruary 2023 will highlight three southside establishments including Thai Bar-B-Que, Vientiane Noodle Shop and AsianRican Foods. The restaurants will offer $7 bowls of pho and additional menu specials throughout the month of February.

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Benson’s Group Plans New Restaurant in Former Wahlburgers

The grill is still warm from Wahlburgers’ final days of service, but a new restaurant group is already moving to fill the vacancy.

According to a Jan. 26 news release, Benson’s Restaurant Group plans to debut its newest restaurant at the highly-desirable Historic Third Ward address, 322 N. Broadway, this summer. Benson’s operates AJ BombersBlue Bat KitchenSmoke Shack, Onesto and the recently-opened The Bridgewater Modern Grill.

Design and reconstruction work is set to begin immediately at the recently-vacated space. The group is working with its partners RINKA and ADK Design to transform the 3,460-square-foot restaurant. A permit application was submitted Thursday.

“We’ve had such an exciting past few months celebrating with neighbors, friends and foodies across the region and guess what – we’re doing it again,” said David Marcus, CEO of Benson’s Restaurant Group, in a statement. “Our team is absolutely thrilled to be bringing another restaurant option to the Third Ward, a location we consider home.”

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Noble Catering Will Operate Skylight Bar & Bistro

Noble Catering is coming to Broadway.

The catering company, part of F Street Hospitality, has been cast as the operator for Skylight Bar & Bistro, according to a Jan. 25 news release from Skylight Music Theatre.

The bar and bistro is located at the Broadway Theatre Center, 158 N. Broadway, in the Historic Third Ward neighborhood. The previous operator was Sabrosa Café & Gallery.

“We are delighted to welcome Noble Catering to Skylight Music Theatre and the Third Ward,” said Susan Varela, interim executive director for Skylight, in a statement. “We know our audiences will appreciate their outstanding combination of great service, delicious food and attention to detail.”

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Malaysian Restaurant for Far South Side

A new restaurant planned for the Clayton Crest neighborhood would bring authentic Malaysian food to Milwaukee’s far South Side.

Experienced restaurateur Amir Ahmad Bin Mohamed Ali and his wife will co-own and lead the upcoming restaurant, Taste Amir’s Roti, which is slated to open this spring at 5306 S. 27th St.

The counter-service restaurant would be takeout focused, said Mohamed Ali, but would offer seats for dine-in as well.

The restaurant would occupy an approximately 1,580-square-foot retail space that previously housed Honeydip Donuts. The former coffee, doughnut and ice cream cafe likely closed in November 2022, according to a license application.

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Milwaukee Scores Four James Beard Semifinalist Nominations

The James Beard Foundation on Wednesday morning announced the semifinalist nominees for the 2023 James Beard Awards, with a handful of Milwaukee chefs, restaurants and restaurateurs earning places alongside the nation’s top talents.

Milwaukee received four nominations across three categories including Best New Restaurant, Best Chef: Midwest and Outstanding Restaurateur.

Lupi & Iris, a fine-dining restaurant serving French and Italian-inspired dishes, was nominated for Best New Restaurant. The East Town establishment, 777 N. Van Buren St., was among 30 semifinalists in the category.

Lupi & Iris, which opened in May 2022, is led by a partnership of former Bartolotta Restaurants executive chef Adam Siegel and real estate developer Michael DeMichele. Siegel is no stranger to the awards, having won a James Beard for Best Chef: Midwest in 2008.

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JJ Fish & Chicken To Reopen on Center St.

A JJ Fish & Chicken restaurant will reopen in the Harambee neighborhood after a several-year hiatus.

The restaurant, 405 W. Center St., has been closed since before 2020, but recent permit applications indicate plans to renovate the building and eventually return the restaurant to operation.

Franchisee Hussain Ayad confirmed the plans in an interview with Urban Milwaukee, but didn’t share a timeline for the reopening process.

Ayad also operates JJ Fish & Chicken restaurants at 6610 N. 76th St. and 809 S. Layton Blvd.

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Temple Goddess Planned For Paper Table

There were these three best friends who loved to cook — one Sicilian, one Indian and one Turkish. No, this isn’t the lead-in to a corny joke, it’s the true story of restaurateur Gregory Cilmi‘s initiation into the world of fusion cuisine.

Cilmi, whose great-great grandfather opened a restaurant in New York City’s Little Italy, had a childhood intertwined with food — from growing up in the family restaurant to sharing recipes with his two best friends.

“We spent a lot of time sampling each other’s foods and doing fusion,” he said. “So from a very young age, I have been mixing and doing fusion of Asian, South Asian and Middle Eastern foods.”

That’s what will be on the menu at Temple Goddess, a new concept planned for Paper Table. Cilmi will co-own the restaurant with his business partner, Eve Savva.

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JJ Fish & Chicken Coming to South Side

A new location for JJ Fish & Chicken is headed to the South Side, thanks to demand from nearby residents.

The upcoming restaurant would occupy a retail stall in a strip mall-style building at 5252-5264 S. 27th St., near the border of Milwaukee and Greenfield.

Longtime franchisee Refaat Manassra said he chose the site based on requests from neighbors who dislike the long haul travel required to visit other JJ locations, which are concentrated mostly on the North Side. In fact, the majority of Milwaukee’s nine JJ’s restaurants are located north of North Avenue.

Manassra said he has worked his whole life as a franchisee for various restaurants. He is also the owner of Sharks Fish & Chicken at 5653 N. 76th St.

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Gülden Room Closes Cafe, Keeps Cocktail Lounge

It’s been nearly four months since Dubbel Dutch introduced Gülden Room, a gilded cafe and cocktail lounge offering locally-sourced coffee, alcoholic beverages and snacks at the boutique hotel, 817-819 N. Marshall St.

As of Jan. 22, the coffee shop is no longer in operation. Dubbel Dutch announced the closure in a Friday afternoon social media post thanking guests for their patronage.

Gülden Room’s lounge, operated by F Street Hospitality, will remain open, serving craft cocktails, wood-smoked old fashioneds and Belgian beers, as well as small plates and desserts.

In the absence of the coffee shop, the lounge is planning a renewed focus on cocktail services and food offerings, as well as additional pop-ups and private events, explained Adam Miller, corporate executive chef for F Street Group.

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Sweetly Baked Taking Treats To The Streets

It’s been just over a year since Sweetly Baked debuted its CBD-infused cookies, cakes and chocolate, satisfying Milwaukeeans with a sweet tooth and soothing stress at every turn.

Now that the business has legs, owner Amanda Buhrman is taking it on the road, with plans to launch a mobile dessert bar for her gourmet, small-batch bakery.

“We saw such amazing support from the community during our first year in business,” Buhrman said. “After attending so many great local events in 2022, we wanted to find a way to elevate the shopping experience for consumers as well as bring a bit more of the brand’s personality into the community.”

After acquiring a food trailer in August 2022, Burhman worked in partnership with Walters Sheet Metal, Quick Finish Technologies and Brilliant DPI to transform the interior and exterior of the future dessert bar. The finished, bubblegum pink trailer is complete with the company’s whimsical logo — a smiling cat holding a cookie while balancing atop a bicycle.

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Potawatomi’s Betting Venue To Replace Northern Lights Theater

A betting venue commonly found in Las Vega casinos will soon have a permanent spot at Milwaukee’s Potawatomi Hotel & Casino.

The casino, 1721 W. Canal St., is set to begin construction on its new sportsbook venue, following approval from Gov. Tony Evers in February 2022.

Featuring a full bar, food and broadcast screen, the sportsbook will replace the casino’s Northern Lights Theater, a 600-seat comedy and concert venue that has occupied a space in the northwest corner of the structure for more than two decades. A long list of big-name musicians and comedians performed there during its 22-year history. from James Brown to Willie Nelson, Aretha Franklin to Tony Bennett, George Carlin to Martin Short.

Fire Pit Sports Bar & Grill is also closed.

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Wisconsin Center Will Keep Living The High Life

It’ll be Miller Time when the Wisconsin Center District (WCD) opens its $456 million convention center expansion.

The WCD will continue to serve Molson Coors beers and other beverages for the next three years as part of a renewed sponsorship agreement. The agreement comes as the district gets ready for the spring 2024 opening of the Wisconsin Center’s expansion. It also covers the Miller High Life Theatre, including maintaining the naming rights agreement, and the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.

WCD, Molson Coors and distributor Beer Capitol jointly announced the agreement Friday.

“Molson Coors has had a longstanding relationship with the Wisconsin Center District since the opening of its convention center in 1998,” said Dan Idstein, general manager of sales at Molson Coors, in a press release. “Molson Coors and Wisconsin Center District share the same goal of elevating Milwaukee as a vibrant city. We are thrilled that Molson Coors and our more than 1,700 Milwaukee employees can continue to support our local community through this renewed partnership.”

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E&F Pizzeria Closing At Crossroads Collective

After just over two years of serving pizza by the slice and whole pies at Crossroads Collective, E&F Pizzeria is on the chopping block.

The fast-casual restaurant will serve its final customers on Sunday, Jan. 22.

Chef Adam Pawlak opened E&F in December 2020, filling a vacancy left by the departure of Raw Bar. The mini-pizzeria is a sister concept to Egg & Flour pasta bar, which operates two Milwaukee locations — one in Bay View and the other adjacent to E&F’s stall at the East Side food hall, 2238 N. Farwell Ave.

Pawlak said he had fun experimenting with the concept, which he saw as a pilot project “to test out for future markets,” but he felt the moment was right to move on to other pursuits.

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Taylor’s Plans Two-Story Restaurant Overlooking Cathedral Square

Cathedral Square Park will soon get some People’s Park flavor.

Brothers Jim and Dan Taylor are planning to convert the Flannery’s Bar & Restaurant space into a new restaurant and add a larger second story that overlooks the park.

“It will pretty much be a glass atrium with restroom facilities and a full indoor-outdoor bar,” said Jim Taylor in an interview. A rooftop deck will cover much of the brothers’ namesake bar, Taylor’s, and directly overlook the park. The indoor structure, with large windows or garage doors, will span the Flannery’s space and the adjacent Real Chili restaurant. A glass ceiling is planned. “People in the surrounding skyscrapers should be able to look down and see a bustling corner.”

Flannery’s, located just off the corner of N. Jefferson St. and E. Wells St., announced its impending closure earlier this week. But don’t expect other drastic changes to the first floor of the building, 419-433 E. Wells St.

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Nō Studios Partners With Chef Gregory Johnson

It’s been almost a year since Nō Studios debuted Skyline Bar + Lounge, a rooftop bar featuring two outdoor patios and a glass-enclosed lounge overlooking the city.

Batch cocktails, beer wine and sake are already plentiful at the business, but a new partnership with chef Gregory Johnson will round out the offerings with upscale comfort food dishes.

“Nō Studios is thrilled to collaborate with Chef Johnson, formerly owner of On the Bayou, to provide a cuisine option for our tenants, members and patrons,” said the business in a statement.

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The Spice House Closing King Drive Storefront

A historic storefront in the heart of downtown’s Old World Third entertainment district will soon be available to lease for the first time in several decades. The flagship location of The Spice House is closing.

Located on the first floor of a three-story building at 1031 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr., the long-standing business has operated there for more than six decades and currently occupies 2,450 square feet of first-floor retail space, as well as the building’s 2,000-square-foot basement.

The Spice House was founded in 1957 by Bill Penzey and Ruth Penzey. The herb and spice purveyor now includes five locations (including the soon-to-close Milwaukee storefront) throughout Wisconsin and Illinois.

The Penzeys had three children, a son and two daughters. Their son, William, is the founder of Penzey’s Spices. Their daughter, Patty Penzey Erd, bought the Spice House from her parents in 1992, becoming a second-generation owner. In 2018, she sold the company to current owners Dave Grossman and Dan Yates.

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