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New Vendors Open at 3rd Street Market Hall

Plus: La Pina tequileria announces opening date, Salvadoran restaurant joining North Avenue Market and goodbye to Lee's Luxury Lounge.

By - Apr 29th, 2023 04:07 pm
3rd Street Market Hall in 2022. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

3rd Street Market Hall in 2022. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Two new vendors made their debuts at 3rd Street Market Hall this week. Yummy Bowl and Pho Spot MKE are the latest additions to the vendor lineup, following on the heels of Smokin’ Jack’s BBQ and Criollo Rotisserie Chicken, which both opened in early April.

The recent influx of vendors brings the food hall to near-capacity for the first time since its January 2022 opening. Two hawker stalls remain vacant at the market, 275 W. Wisconsin Ave., but are currently pending with potential vendors, according to a news release.

Yummy Bowl, led by husband and wife team Gary and Anita Gray, offers a variety of travel-friendly breakfast, lunch and dinner options.

The convenience-focused business got its start in June 2022 at the Whitefish Bay farmers market, garnering attention for its loaded breakfast bowls; fluffy Belgian waffles, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage and an optional sprinkling of shredded cheese, as well as the popular  “yumbalaya” bowl with shrimp, chicken, andouille sausage in a thick, rice-based stew flavored with vegetables and spices.

The restaurant also plans to serve a Friday fish fry.

“Yummy Bowl is excited to serve a traditional breakfast every morning and Sunday brunch specials at the 3rd Street Market Hall,” said Anita Gray. “You can start your day with The Original YumMorning Bowl, and for lunch and dinner you can enjoy our Yummy Chicken & Waffles, YumBalaya, or the Yummy special of the week.”

Pho Spot MKE is the first brick-and-mortar business for husband and wife team Shimleng Lo and Mauly Her Lo. The couple previously operated the Oxtail Noodle House food truck and ghost kitchen.

Aside from its various pho options, the specialty Dac Biet Bánh Mì, featuring pork belly, head cheese, Vietnamese ham, chicken liver pâté, mayo, cilantro, cucumber, jalapeño peppers, pickled carrot and daikon and Maggi sauce atop a toasted baguette, comes highly recommended. Shareable options like crispy egg rolls and fresh spring rolls round out the menu.

“I’m extremely excited to open our first brick-and-mortar location in the heart of downtown,” Lo said. “We’re looking forward to bringing our Vietnamese food to the city and sharing it with everyone. The opportunity for us to be open year-round inside 3rd Street Market Hall means consistency in service hours and opportunities to serve more guests.”

The food hall at 3rd Street Market is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The bar keeps slightly different hours and is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.

La Piña Sets Opening Date

The opening date for La Piña, a new tequileria and mezcal bar in the Walker’s Point neighborhood, will coincide with Cinco de Mayo.

Owner and tequila enthusiast Patrick Todd recently announced the weekend-long opening, which will kick off Friday, May 5 and run through Sunday, May 7.

Despite a shortage of agave, which in turn limits the production of tequila, Todd said he eventually hopes to offer dozens of unique and carefully-sourced agave spirits at La Piña, with a long-term goal of stocking 100 different tequilas and more than 30 mezcals at the bar.

Branding and decor for the bar, 1801 S. 3rd St., was inspired by the art and culture of Jalisco, the Mexican state credited as the birthplace of tequila.

Todd, who has spent seven years completing research trips to Jalisco, brings extensive knowledge of both the state and its spirits to the new venture.

El Rey Celebrating 45 Years

El Rey, the family-owned Hispanic supermarket chain, will soon celebrate its 45th year in business.

On May 13, the company will commemorate the anniversary with a community-wide celebration featuring giveaways, cake, live music and more. Events will take place at all four El Rey locations.

“I could never have imagined this,” said co-owner Ernesto Villarreal in a statement. “It took a lot of determination and work. It is thanks to the clients that have supported us since the beginning and that continue with us that we are here today.”

A live mariachi band will perform from noon until 3 p.m., with cake cutting to take place at 1 p.m. and a piñata break for children aged 10 and younger at 3 p.m.

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Downtown Dining Week Restaurants Revealed

More than 25 downtown eateries are fixing for a feast, as the city prepares for its 18th annual Downtown Dining Week.

Coordinated by Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21, this year’s event will run from June 1 through June 8, featuring specially-priced, multi-course lunch and dinner menus at participating restaurants, steakhouses, bistros and more.

“Downtown Dining Week is an invitation to sample Downtown Milwaukee’s new and established restaurants,” said Beth Weirick, CEO of Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21. “Diners will have an opportunity to indulge in multi-course meals from a myriad of cuisines ranging from steaks and seafood to sushi and Italian — there’s something for every palate.”

The 27-restaurant lineup features returning participants including ARIA, Blue Bat Kitchen & Tequilaria, Brunch, Café at the Pfister, The Capital Grille, Carson’s Prime Steaks & Famous Barbecue, DOC’s Commerce Smokehouse, East Town Kitchen & BarFlourchildThe Knick, Mader’s RestaurantMason Street Grill, OnestoRodizio GrillSmoke ShackThe Social American Tavern, Stella Van BurenThird Coast Provisions and Turning Tables Tavern & Eatery.

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Bridgewater Offers Good Food, Lovely River Views

With spring arriving in Milwaukee it’s almost patio season, and on a warm day try heading to the Harbor District for a meal at The Bridgewater Modern Grill. Even if the food wasn’t delicious, which it definitely is, a meal on the extensive patio adjacent to the Kinnickinnic River will be worth the trip. It’s also good to know that if you come by water, you can tie up at one of the 10 docks by the patio.

Everything about Bridgewater says this is a classy joint from windows overlooking the river to the sleek industrialized setting and three paintings that represent the Hoan Bridge. Friends and I also appreciated the lovely table settings and the impeccable service which we enjoyed at a weekday lunch and a Sunday brunch. If the place looks familiar, it’s because it is the location of the former Horny Goat Brew Pub that closed in 2015.

Bridgewater is the latest addition to Benson’s Restaurant Group that includes Onesto, Smoke Shack, AJ Bombers and Blue Bat Kitchen & Tequilaria, a diverse group known for Italian cuisine, barbeque, burgers, and Mexican specialties. Bridgewater, with its seasonal ingredients and oak-fed grill, adds an upscale modern twist to the group.

At lunch, seated by a window with a fine view of the river, my companion and I enjoyed the outstanding service of Fame who answered our questions and recommended the Friday Fish Fry Special, catfish. It was exceptional, three large pieces of tender fish in a tempura-like beer batter that let the taste of the lager linger in every bite. The accompanying roasted garlic aioli had a kick which we wanted to be able to duplicate at home, but server Fame said, “Don’t ask. The chef chooses not to reveal his spices.”

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Luxury-Themed Businesses Planned Near Capitol and Fond du Lac

Two adjacent storefronts would house house “luxury” businesses under a plan from Gerald Hill Jr.

Hill plans to open Luxury Lounge, a cocktail bar and non-tobacco hookah lounge, at 4860 W. Fond du Lac Ave. A salon, Luxury Salon, is also in the works next door.

A Chicago native, Hill moved to Milwaukee with his dad when he was a little boy, he said. An entrepreneur at heart, Hill has tried his hand at various business ventures throughout the past several years.

“I would sit back and brainstorm,” he said. “I just wanted a business that I feel like is going to make money every day.”

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Daddy’s On Blue Mound Offers Home Cooking

It was a chicken wing that took me to Daddy’s on Blue Mound. The restaurant at 6108 W. Blue Mound Rd. was one of four vendors at an event in the ballroom at Turner Hall where a celebration of Black History Month included brisket from Heaven’s BBQ, pie from Mr. Dye’s Pies, burnt ends from Turning Tables, and those memorable wings from Daddy’s on Blue Mound.

The restaurant is a relative newcomer to Milwaukee, having served their family recipes on Blue Mound for less than two years. They opened in September 2021, about the time we began to drop the masks and return to restaurants. It was a gutsy time to open a restaurant. Not everyone was ready to dive in, get out of the house, and let someone else do the cooking.

But good food spoke to customer’s reticence and since their opening, Daddy’s has thrived, drawing many diners from the neighborhood on the eastern edge of Wauwatosa. They moved into a George Webb’s and you will see the bones of the former including large windows that face Blue Mound, a long counter with multiple stools, and tables that face the street.

Owner Bennie Smith and his wife Angela opened the first Daddy’s Soul Food & Grille at 754 N. 27th St. in 2014 where they continue to serve classic soul food such as Fried Catfish, Fried Chicken, smothered Pork Chops, Greens, and Sweet Potatoes. Smith’s daughter Amber, one his four children who work at Daddy’s was my server at the Blue Mound site on both visits. The other three siblings work at the Wells Street location, a larger restaurant, according to Amber.

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Egg & Flour Exits The East Side, Focuses on Bay View

Egg & Flour, the comfort-forward pasta concept dreamed up by Adam Pawlak, will leave its post at Crossroads Collective in early May. Its Bay View location will continue to operate.

After four years of serving handmade pasta at the East Side food hall, 2238 N. Farwell Ave., Pawlak said he wants to make space for up-and-coming businesses.

“After much consideration, it is time for another great dreamer, entrepreneur, chef, and inspired owner to come into this space and create their own story,” the chef wrote in a social media post.

The pasta bar will remain open through May 4.

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European Cafe Will Replace The Spice House

The Spice House vacated its downtown storefront earlier this year, but the seasoning shop may soon be replaced by a new — yet equally flavorful — concept.

Sweet Connie’s Cafe is looking to open at 1031 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr., offering European-style pastries, breakfast, brunch and coffee, all with an emphasis on hyper-local ingredients — including produce grown in-house and live, potted herbs at each table for guests to harvest their own garnishes.

Co-owners Consuela Towns and Shelley Wiley are overflowing with excitement for the new concept, which they hope to have up and running by August.

“The gratitude that I feel right now is just so overwhelming,” said Towns, an industry veteran who also holds a degree in culinary arts from MATC. “I’m just so excited for people to taste it.”

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New Pizza Man Opens This Week

Pizza Man is fast approaching a grand opening for its new location, 2060 N. Humboldt Ave. Though an official launch is scheduled for Friday, fans eager for a slice of the action are invited to a soft opening on Wednesday, April 26.

The restaurant, which recently made the move to Riverwest from its former location on Downer Avenue, will host a soft opening from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., serving fresh, thin-crust pizzas and other Italian dishes, as well as beer, wine and signature cocktails.

The new location — newly outfitted with Pizza Man’s gigantic, distinguishing signage — features both indoor and patio dining, both offering prime views of the Milwaukee River and the Lower East Side neighborhood beyond.

The building itself, formerly the site of Stubby’s Gastropub, contains more than 21,000 square feet of space. Along with Pizza Man, the building houses INVIVO Wellness and attorney offices, as well as a first-floor parking garage.

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Concordia Market Opens at Airport

As of April 25, travelers at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport — more specifically, those in Concourse C — will enjoy an expanded selection of food and beverage options, thanks to the brand new Concordia Market.

The shelves at the gourmet store are lined with Milwaukee-made products including Anodyne Coffee beans, Clock Shadow Creamery cheese curds and freshly-made Press Waffles. The shop also offers brewed coffee and tea, packaged snacks, bottles of wine and regional beer, as well as pastries, salads, sandwiches, wraps and parfaits.

“The opening of Concordia Market brings added convenience and high-quality food options to those flying from our world-class MKE airport,” said County Executive David Crowley in a statement. “Passengers from around the world now have another way to easily access great products made locally here in Milwaukee.”

Named for Milwaukee’s Historic Concordia neighborhood (which itself is named for Concordia University) — which dates back nearly to the 1850s and is known for its Victorian-style homes — the new market is the latest addition to vendor Paradies Lagardère’s airport operation.

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Lee’s Luxury Lounge Will Close In May

Bay View‘s most blessed bar is winding down operations after a nearly 20-year run on Kinnickinnic Avenue. Lee’s Luxury Lounge on Tuesday announced the upcoming closure in a social media post. The bar’s final day of service will be May 20.

The neon-trimmed, wood-paneled corner tavern, 2988 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., has operated since 2004 within a 1927 building that, throughout the past century has housed a “revolving cast of businesses” including an upholsterer, a fruit store, a tailor, an insurance office and several renditions of a bakery, according to Michael Horne‘s 2017 Bar Exam.

Brothers Jason and Josh Anderson own the tavern, which offers an extensive selection of beers — including both local and imported picks, as well as pool tables, skeeball machines, electronic darts and a shuffleboard table.

The establishment previously held a license for the sale of pre-packaged food, according to city records, but opted to ax its food dealers license during last year’s renewal period. The liquor license for Lee’s is set to expire on May 25.

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Pufferfish Tiki Bar To Open Permanently at Hotel Metro

Pufferfish, a traveling tiki concept created by cocktail aficionado JC Cunningham, has found a permanent home atop Hotel Metro, in East Town.

The tiki bar got its start amid the COVID-19 pandemic, operating as a pop-up at Lost Whale as a way to keep the bar afloat and support staff on the payroll.

After 18 months — including enduring a full Wisconsin winter — Pufferfish left its outdoor patio space and embarked on a series of pop-ups throughout the city, the last of which took place in June 2022 at Hotel Metro, 411 E. Mason St.

More than 400 guests descended upon the bar during its initial appearance at the hotel, forming a line that extended out the door and down two flights of stairs for five hours straight.

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City Seeks Restaurant or Cafe For Downtown Park

The City of Milwaukee is looking for a “uniquely Milwaukee” food and beverage vendor to operate at Vel R. Phillips Plaza, a new downtown park planned along W. Wisconsin Ave.

A request for proposals (RFP) was issued this week to select a vendor. City officials hope the operator makes the plaza a marquee downtown destination. Construction is expected to begin this fall, with the plaza planned to open in time for the July 2024 Republican National Convention.

The vendor would operate from a new, glassy building near W. Wisconsin Ave. and N. 5th St. The plaza, honoring civil rights pioneer Vel Phillips, would run east along W. Wisconsin Ave. to N. Vel R. Phillips Ave.

“The location couldn’t be more promising,” said Mayor Cavalier Johnson at a press conference Monday. The mayor ticked off a long list of nearby projects, including the $456 million expansion of the convention center, Fiserv’s headquarters relocation to HUB640, the planned Kohl’s department store, The Avenue, 3rd Street Market Hall, Bradley Symphony Center and new Milwaukee Tool downtown office. “There is much more happening in the Westown neighborhood as well.”

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New Dessert Shop For Clarke Square

With the promise of warmer temperatures on the horizon, residents of the Clarke Square neighborhood will soon have a new option for ice cream and other sweet treats.

After years of operating convenience and liquor stores throughout the city, local entrepreneur Muhannad Mustafa is changing gears, with plans to open his first food business, Ice Cream & More, at 2134 W. National Ave.

“I wanted to do this for the neighborhood,” he said. “You don’t have anything like it in this area.”

The dessert shop, slated for an early summer opening, would occupy the storefront next door to D’Sign Pizza, which opened in February. The 1,125-square-foot space was previously the site of Garden of Eden Kingdom Living, a natural food brand. The business has since departed, according to Mustafa.

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Pupuseria Los Angeles Joining North Avenue Market

In a continuation of its spring revamp, North Avenue Market is preparing to welcome its newest vendor, Pupuseria Los Angeles, bringing a taste of authentic Salvadoran cuisine to the food hall, 5900 W. North Ave.

Behind the upcoming concept is Maria de Los Angeles Monge Almendarez, an industry veteran and long-time chef specializing in dishes from her home country of El Salvador.

The North Avenue Market stall will be the first brick-and-mortar location for the business, which has operated for more than seven years as a food truck called Cielito Salvadoreño.

Back in 2019, Monge Almendarez made plans to open a restaurant at 3530 W. National Ave., in the southside building that was formerly home to Romo’s Silver City Sports Bar — but those plans never came to fruition. The vacancy was instead filled by Brother’s Backyard Barbeque, which opened last November.

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Saffron Adds Brunch Service In Advance of First Anniversary

Saffron has been winning diners over with its savory lunch and dinner dishes since making its June debut in the Historic Third Ward. Some — such as saffron butter chicken — have stood the test of time, while others were recently introduced as part of a February refresh.

Now approaching its first anniversary, the modern Indian restaurant is poised to expand its menu with a variety of traditional American and Indian brunch dishes — all enhanced with Saffron’s signature flair of creative and well-presented dishes.

Starting this weekend, April 22, the new menu will be available every Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

On the menu, guests can expect french toast, spiced egg skillet and an elevated take on chicken and waffles, as well as a saffron toastie, tandoori chicken tikka wrap and masala dosa, a fermented rice and lentil crepe stuffed with spiced potatoes.

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Council Issues 20-Day Suspension To Lounge 340

A longtime dispute between a tavern owner and nearby residents reached a tenuous resolution on Tuesday when the Milwaukee Common Council unanimously voted to issue a 20-day suspension to Lounge 340.

The bar, 340 W. Reservoir Ave., opened in 2019 with the intent to serve as a laid-back lounge for no more than a handful of guests at a time. But throughout the past year and a half, neighbors say they have noticed a dramatic increase in the number of people inside the establishment, as well as litter, excessive noise and illegal activity associated with its patrons.

Will Meyers, who lives across the street from the lounge, said he has observed instances of drunk and reckless driving, illegal parking, carryout liquor, loitering and violent altercations between patrons — one of which resulted in a subject producing a gun, though it was never discharged.

As part of his March 7 testimony before the Licenses Committee, Meyers submitted a flash drive containing more than 800 megabytes of photo and video evidence of neighbors’ claims about the bar.

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