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Greek Restaurant Avlí Hosting Pop-Up

Plus: Home Depot hot dogs, new cafe for Walker's Point and the return of Jackson Grill.

By - Jun 18th, 2023 01:46 pm
Filo-wrapped prawns. Photo courtesy of Mac Yellek.

Filo-wrapped prawns. Photo courtesy of Mac Yellek.

As Avlí prepares for the opening of its first Milwaukee location later this summer, the modern Greek restaurant will offer a preview of its menu with a kitchen takeover at Pilot Project Brewing, a fellow Chicago-based business.

The multi-day pop-up will run from June 22 through 24 from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m., offering an assortment of mezzes, or small plates, along with recommended pairings from the brewery.

On the menu, attendees can expect phyllo-wrapped kataifi prawns served with spicy aioli; mini zucchini fritters with fresh herbs, feta cheese and yogurt; pork tigania, a braised dish flavored with peppers, honey, white wine and lemon juice; and mini chicken gyros on pita bread with all the fixings.

Pairing suggestions range from Timepass, a light, crisp lager from Azadi Brewing, to the fruit-heavy Courtesy of Copenhagen from Brewer’s Kitchen.

Pilot Project, which opened its Milwaukee location in fall of 2022, is located at 1128 N. 9th St., in The Brewery District.

Walk-ins are welcome at Pilot Project, but reservations for the pop-up are available to book online.

Avlí, which has five locations throughout the Chicago area, is expected to open its Milwaukee restaurant at 1818 N. Hubbard St., in Brewers Hill later this summer.

Anodyne Sold to Midwest-Based Coffee Collective

Change is brewing for a prominent Milwaukee coffee roaster and cafe, but customers are unlikely to notice the shift because it will take place largely behind the scenes.

The founders of Anodyne recently sold the company to FairWave Specialty Coffee Collective. The Milwaukee-based cafe joins nine other specialty coffee brands under the purview of the collective, headquartered in Kansas City, MO.

“FairWave’s mission is to elevate existing coffee brands to ensure they stay local to the communities they serve,” said a representative of the collective.  “Anodyne’s cafes and wholesale operations will continue uninterrupted, and no major menu changes will be made.”

Behind the scenes, however, FairWave will have a hand in decisions regarding Anodyne’s coffee buying, roasting, operations, accounting and marketing teams. All of Anodyne’s employees will remain in their current positions.

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City Tours and Discourse Partnering On Walker’s Point Cafe

City Tours MKE is known for highlighting the best of Milwaukee’s food and beer during its excursions throughout the city. Starting this fall, the company will also offer an on-site taste of locally-crafted food and beverages at the start and end of every tour.

City Tours will partner with experimental coffee and cocktail purveyor, Discourse, to open a cafe as part of its new Walker’s Point headquarters, Station 1846.

Housed in a repurposed automotive garage at 215 W. Bruce St., the headquarters will also function as an event venue and operation hub for the company’s fleet of five-passenger electric vehicles and two 15-passenger buses.

“We were just looking for a home base,” said owner Meghan Miles. “And Walker’s Point definitely seemed like the right spot.”

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VISIT Milwaukee Celebrates Record-Setting Year

VISIT Milwaukee celebrated a record-setting year for tourism at its annual meeting on Wednesday, touting the combined efforts of small businesses, sports organizations and local artists in boosting Milwaukee’s tourism economy past pre-pandemic benchmarks.

The convention and visitors bureau also shared plans to continue the positive momentum in the coming year with a series of new initiatives, including Authenticated Experiences, or AX, an NFT-based art tourism program.

The experience debuted Thursday morning in partnership with Summerfest, featuring five unique works by Milwaukee artist Tiara Nicole.

Using the locally-made Vennity app, participants can engage with the scavenger hunt-esque program — reminiscent of the once-ubiquitous Pokémon GO game — to locate and secure the NFTs.

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Proposal To Overhaul Wisconsin Alcohol Rules Gets First Hearing

A massive legislative package to overhaul Wisconsin’s alcohol regulation system through the clarification of existing laws, addition of new permits and the creation of a dedicated alcohol enforcement agency under the state Department of Revenue (DOR), got a public hearing Tuesday in the Assembly Committee on State Affairs.

Lawmakers and alcohol industry representatives touted a compromise between the Legislature, DOR and industry representatives that took nearly a decade to reach over the regulatory changes. Those groups were largely supportive of the bill. But operators of wedding barns across the state complained that they’d been left out of that negotiation process and that the bill would kneecap a growing industry in many parts of rural Wisconsin.

“It is not a hastily written document and it certainly is not perfect,” said Will Glass, owner of the Brewing Projekt in Eau Claire and president of both the Wisconsin Brewers Guild and Wisconsin Craft Beverage Coalition. “What it is, is it’s long overdue and it is a compromise. It is the result of years of conversations and negotiations that at occasion got very tense. It is a much more equitable regulatory system for Wisconsin craft producers as it brings clarity to the rules by which we start, build and invest in our businesses.”

The bill, AB 304, would make a number of changes to Wisconsin’s alcohol licensing and permitting system. The state’s liquor license system divides businesses into a number of different groups, including suppliers, wholesalers and retailers, selling different combinations of “fermented malt beverages,” wine and liquor. The 90-year-old system operates by alcohol producers selling their products to wholesalers, who then sell them to retailers.

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New Bar and Restaurant to Replace Buck Bradley’s

Buck Bradley’s, home of ‘the long bar,’ has been a longtime fixture at 1015-1019 N. Martin L King Jr Dr., enduring through decades of changes in the surrounding area including the creation of the nearby Deer District.

But operations at the downtown bar and eatery are winding down ahead of its July 1 closing date.

In its place, industry veterans Pete Marshall and Jerry Bussen plan to open a concept called Copper. The upcoming bar and restaurant will offer a modernized menu and ambience while preserving the history and character of its predecessor.

“We want to try to maintain the sports feel but also just make it feel like a real, big city bar,” said Marshall, who previously managed Milwaukee Brat House, next door to Buck Bradley’s.

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Nomad Burger Shack Returns to Brady Street

If you’re drinking on Brady Street and need a snack, look no further than Nomad Burger Shack.

The seasonal grill, tucked at the back of the Nomad World Pub patio, 1401 E. Brady St., is making a comeback in 2023, serving up burgers, chicken sandwiches, cheese curds, cauliflower bites and more.

“For most Milwaukeeans the official start of summer is the festival season, but for us it’s the reopening of our burger shack,” said Gedi Haile, Nomad’s general manager, in a statement. “This year will be a little bit different as we’ve decided to add some fun options to our traditional shack menu.”

One new addition is the shack’s mac-and-cheese bowls, which will be available with add-ons including pulled pork, bacon and jalapeño, hot chicken and chili.

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Gibraltar Announces Grand Opening Date

In February, Milwaukee musician and entrepreneur Evan Christian began the process of reopening Gibraltar, a cocktail lounge and music venue that previously operated in Walker’s Point. Now fully settled in his new, Historic Third Ward space, Christian is setting the stage for a grand reopening.

Gibraltar is set to welcome its first guests for a night of music, libations and cheer on Thursday, June 22. Attendance is limited to those aged 21 and older. There will be no reservations and no cover to enter.

In the four months since the announcement, Christian has completely transformed the interior of the corner tavern space, 131 N. Jackson St., from the western style of its predecessor, Saloon, into a jazz-lover’s oasis.

The 2,000-square-foot interior now features table and bar seating and a stage area for live performances. A cascade of colorful flowers is suspended from the ceiling, while the walls are adorned with records, guitars, portraits of well-known musicians and images of Christian’s trademark bowler hat.

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New Pizza Shop For Brady Street

Mohammad Morrar is angling for a slice of the late-night dining crowd on bustling Brady Street. Later this summer, the local entrepreneur plans to open Brady St Pizza, a new fast food restaurant serving pizza, ice cream and specialty beverages.

The proposed eatery is expected to open in early July at 1415 E. Brady St., according to a recently-filed license application, replacing Cutthroat Tattoo on the first floor of a two-story building located across the street from Walgreens.

In his plan of operation, Morrar described the business as “a lively and enjoyable destination where customers can indulge in delicious boba tea drinks, flavorful shaved and rolled ice cream and a welcoming ambiance.”

Along with its desserts and hot and iced beverages, the restaurant would also serve full pizzas for carryout.

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The New State Will Have New Cafe

A new cafe is coming to Milwaukee’s Near West Side as part of a larger proposal to redevelop the long-shuttered State Theater into a music venue known as The New State.

The owners of the nearby Daddy’s Soul Food & Grille will open Dulaney’s at 2608-2610 W. State St., a one-story commercial building next to the theater.

“This time next year it should be open,” said developer John Hennessy, one of the leaders of the New State effort, to the Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee on Tuesday morning.

Since 2014, husband-and-wife team Bennie and Angela Smith have operated the highly-regarded Daddy’s at 754 N. 27th St., two blocks to the south. The couple opened another restaurant, Daddy’s on Bluemound, in 2021. But Dulaney’s is described as a cafe.

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Jackson Grill Reopens on South Side

When Andy Radjenovich learned that Jackson Grill, a southside steakhouse, was slated to close, the longtime chef and industry veteran was not content to watch the restaurant fade into Milwaukee history.

“This place was a staple,” Radjenovich said of the neighborhood establishment, 3736 W. Mitchell St., which operated for 20 years under the ownership of Heidi Schmidt and her late husband, Jimmy Jackson. “I didn’t want to see a place like this disappear.”

Radjenovich quietly reopened Jackson Grill in early June, filling the dining room Wednesday through Saturday and serving up a classic supper club menu with French influences.

The road to reopening has not been an easy one, said Radjenovich, between the industry-wide staffing shortage, inflation and an ever-changing dining landscape due to the still-lingering impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. But he is determined to remain patient, “be picky” and do things “the right way” in order to properly honor the beloved neighborhood establishment.

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Third Ward’s Fusion Poke Opens

The newest location for Fusion Poke began its soft opening earlier this week in the Historic Third Ward. The restaurant is the third poke-focused eatery to join the neighborhood.

The storefront at 329 N. Broadway has been under construction for the better part of a year. The finished, 2,454-square-foot interior now features guest-ready banquette and table seating, glowing signage and a handful of bright chandeliers reminiscent of jellyfish.

The new Fusion Poke is the third Milwaukee location for the fast-growing chain, which opened its first restaurant in 2018 at 1813 E. Kenilworth Pl. and its second in 2021 at 1433 N. Jefferson St. Owner Andy Zheng also briefly operated a Fusion Poke in Illinois.

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Local Businesses Win Fresh Food Grants

The latest round of Fresh Food Access Fund (FFAF) grants will continue to plant seeds of change across the city in pursuit of a healthier and more nourished population of Milwaukeeans.

And a handful of grant recipients are taking that literally, with plans to use their cut of the funds to construct raised beds, micro-farms and gardens.

Take HoneyBee Sage Apothecary & Herbal Beverage Lounge, for example. The wellness-focused business, which opened a new location last year in Bronzeville, will match the $4,221 grant amount to install an indoor hydroponic garden to produce hyper-local greens.

City leaders on Monday morning announced plans to distribute $100,000 worth of grants to seven local businesses and nonprofits to aid in healthy food initiatives. FFAF grants may cover up to 50% of the cash expenditure required for a project, with the awardee required to cover the remaining cost.

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Tango Charlie Dogs Opens at Home Depot

You might expect to find a former electrician working in the wiring department of The Home Depot. But running the in-store concession stand is what really lights up Anthony Cecola.

The retired tradesman recently took ownership of the hot dog stand at the home improvement retailer, fulfilling a childhood dream.

“I’m really excited,” Cecola said. “I’ve wanted to own a hot dog stand since I was a little kid.”

Cecola spent 35 years as an electrician at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, where he also made cameos as the voice behind the security announcements. “Moving walkway ending, please look down, that kind of stuff,” he demonstrated in his deep baritone.

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Elsa’s Has a Unique Parisian Flair

“Life is short; eat dessert first,” is the first thing you see when you open the menu at Elsa’s on the Park, 833 N. Jefferson St. The list of desserts is enticing, but it might be best to wait until after your meal to order, given the portion sizes of the mains and the irresistible appetizers like the Galettes and Greens.

This plate is a shareable, especially if you order the large portion of this cracker-like flatbread which is totally covered with crisp Nueske’s bacon. There were also black olives and caramelized onions, but the bacon was the main event. The menu read “garnished” with a side salad, which was not quite accurate as the salad, and there was a lot of it, was hidden underneath the flatbread that covered the plate. The salad added a piquant contrast, creating a happy medley of salty bacon, tart vinaigrette, and sweet onions.

Water Chestnuts, another appetizer, also features Nueske’s bacon. This time the bacon is used to wrap the water chestnuts which the chef then places on a bed of sliced radishes and cucumbers. A side of honey finishes the dish.

My companion ordered the Burger Au Poivre because she remembered it from the last time she ate at Elsa’s. She had excavated that detail prior to our lunch from a journal entry she made in 1996. Twenty-seven years later, she said, “It’s the same burger with the same peppercorns and the burgundy-flavored sauce.”

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Red Snapper Reopens With New Menu, Management

Red Snapper recently celebrated its grand reopening in the Uptown neighborhood. The fast-casual seafood restaurant, 6016 W. Lisbon Ave., officially debuted its refreshed menu and new management on June 2.

The restaurant, formerly known as Redd’s Snapper, has been open intermittently for more than 15 years at the address. Previously a chain, Redd’s Snapper at one time operated six locations throughout the city.

In 2018, Milwaukee real estate developer Kalan Haywood bought the company from owner Elexis Redd and slightly changed the name to Red Snapper. At the time, he and business partners Craig and Rita Willis planned to revitalize the chain with additional locations throughout the Milwaukee area and beyond, according to the Milwaukee Business Journal; however, those plans never came to fruition. 

The sole location for Red Snapper is now under the purview of manager Kenneth Mays, who took over day-to-day operations at the restaurant earlier this spring.

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