Sophie Bolich

Dream Lab Closing for Relocation

Cafe in Walker's Point will close May 19, with plans to reopen this summer in nearby building.

By - May 15th, 2023 04:33 pm
Current site of Dream Lab, 327 W. National Ave. Photo taken April 2, 2023 by Sophie Bolich.

Current site of Dream Lab, 327 W. National Ave. Photo taken April 2, 2023 by Sophie Bolich.

Five years after opening in Walker’s Point, Dream Lab is preparing to move into its dream space. The cafe will close after service on Friday, May 19, with plans to reopen in late June or early July at 738 S. 3rd St. — just down the street from its current address.

“It was the perfect opportunity, with perfect timing, in a perfect building,” said owner Shawn DeKay, a medical courier-turned full-time artist-turned entrepreneur who opened Dream Lab, 327 W. National Ave., in 2018.

Dream Lab will relocate to a standalone building that features a backyard for outdoor seating and windows that open — amenities that are lacking in the business’s current space, according to DeKay.

“Although I love the place we’re in and it served us well over the past five years, we’re missing some things,” he said, adding that the new building “has so much potential” that he is eager to bring to life.

DeKay, who was born and raised on Milwaukee’s South Side, said that moving the business out of the Walker’s Point neighborhood, which he says is “one of the most artistic” in the city, was never a consideration.

“The freedom of expression, the lifestyle — everything that comes along with the people in this community is just perfect for what Dream Lab is,” he said.

Indeed, the cafe seems like a microcosm of the eclectic neighborhood that surrounds it. “You walk into Dream Lab and we have hip-hop playing, we have people sketching, we have clouds hanging from the ceiling, we’re just an artsy spot that loves being who we are, and the neighborhood is perfect for that,” DeKay said.

Dream Lab offers coffee and espresso drinks, an assortment of craft beer, CBD-infused teas and Palermo’s pizza, as well as more than a dozen hookah flavors.

The business also serves as an art gallery and gathering space, featuring walls filled with artwork from local makers, including pieces from DeKay.  Other attractions include a hot pink pool table and Dream Lab’s resident leopard gecko, Henry.

DeKay is still in the early stages of the move, and is working on attaining permits and final inspections before making the switchover.

The future site of Dream Lab is a 3,331-square-foot building owned by PBR Properties LLC, which lists Daniel Vance Jardon as its registered agent. The structure has previously housed a handful of businesses, including a dance studio, barber shop and tattoo parlor, but has been empty for several years.

In the interim between this Friday’s closing and the future reopening, DeKay said he plans to build a retaining wall and fence around the new building’s backyard to create a private beer garden and patio space, as well as adding decor for the perfect “Dream Lab touch.”

Updates regarding a grand reopening date will be posted to the Dream Lab Facebook page.

Dream Lab will be open daily from 4 p.m. to midnight through Friday, May 19.


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