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Colectivo to Host Regional Barista Competition

Plus: Three new restaurants open, food hall reaches capacity and farewell to Good Soup.

By - Sep 3rd, 2023 12:29 pm
Colectivo Coffee, 2211 N. Prospect Ave. Photo taken June 3rd, 2015 by Michael Horne.

Colectivo Coffee, 2211 N. Prospect Ave. Photo taken June 3rd, 2015 by Michael Horne.

Milwaukee-based Colectivo Coffee has been selected to host the 2023 Midwest Barista League Competition.

Come Oct. 21, the cafe’s East Side location, 2211 N. Prospect Ave., will welcome 12 teams of espresso extraordinaires for three rounds of challenges related to the bean-based beverage.

The competition will be held in The Back Room event venue, which is slated to close at the end of 2023 as part of a cafe expansion.

Local coffee enthusiasts are welcome to spectate the event or even compete themselves — baristas of all skill levels are welcome. Applications are free to fill out and are available online. The deadline to apply is Monday, Sept. 4.

For those who prefer to observe, tickets are available for purchase online. Early bird tickets, priced at $5, will be available until Oct. 7. After that, general admission tickets will be priced at $8.

The competition is set to kick off at 6 p.m. and will last until 10:30 p.m., when the champions are crowned.

The 2023 Barista League Competition season spans four continents, with events held in Oslo, Bogota, Mexico City, Hamburg, Brno in the Czech Republic, Toronto, Los Angeles, Bristol, Melbourne, Spain, Atlanta and Dubai.

More details will be announced closer to the competition date. For updates, visit Colectivo on Instagram, or go to the Midwest Barista League website.

Following Motorcycle Crash, Good Soup Closing

Samantha Zielinski opened Good Soup last November, serving up bowls of seasonal soup — accompanied by thick slices of homemade sourdough — from a tiny kitchen in the West View neighborhood.

Throughout its roughly nine months in business, the restaurant, 3135 S. 92nd St., was especially cognizant of third-shift workers, operating late into the night and early-morning hours to accommodate nurses and other healthcare workers.

In an ironic twist of fate, Zielinski will soon close Good Soup in order to care for her fiance and co-owner, Travis Reynolds, while he recovers from a serious motorcycle crash.

The restaurant will sell the last of its inventory on Saturday, Sept. 2 and Sunday, Sept. 3 from noon until 6 p.m.. The restaurant is offering 16-ounce and 32-ounce containers of cold soup and full loaves of sourdough for carryout.

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Seven Years From Dream To Reality, Sushi Yuki Finally Opens In Bay View

Sushi Yuki opened its doors to the public on Aug. 30, inviting diners into its chic Bay View dining room to partake in fresh sashimi, rice dishes, teriyaki and more.

What guests may not know, however, is that their first taste of the new Japanese restaurant was seven years in the making.

Owners Jin San Koh and Sung Hee “Jenny” Kim first proposed the restaurant back in 2016, after purchasing the former Puente’s Barbershop, 2349 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. The married couple are experienced restaurateurs, with credits including Sakura Japan Sushi & Grill in Waukesha and the now-closed Osaka Little Japan.

Koh and Kim later demolished the Bay View building and constructed a new one in its place. The sleek, all-black structure, situated between Tip Top Atomic Shop and a residential home, sat sat seemingly completed restaurant for more than two years without a word from the owners.

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Cheers Would Replace Happy Days At Sherman Phoenix

Sherman Phoenix said happy trails to Happy Days earlier this summer. The sitcom-inspired bar took its leave from the marketplace on July 8, after nine months in business; however, a new bar is already set to take its place.

What’s more, the upcoming business is also inspired by a popular TV show. Cheers, a project of Mirian Goodson, could open as soon as Oct. 1 at Sherman Phoenix, 3536 W. Fond du Lac Ave.

The new bar is slated for a 1,195-square-foot, second-floor space within the marketplace, which is already home to 20 small, locally-owned businesses including Buffalo Boss, Confectionately Yours, Junior’s Smoked BBQ and Lush Gourmet Popcorn, as well as wellness, business, beauty and art-focused vendors.

Cheers would take over Happy Days’ previous role as the sole alcohol vendor in the building.

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AJ Bombers Launches Catering Arm, Mobile Burger Bar

AJ Bombers is a mainstay on Water Street, where it serves burgers, boozy shakes and peanuts to hungry downtown crowds — namely those on the way to or from an event at Fiserv Forum.

But Milwaukeeans from all corners of the city have long wished for the restaurant, 1247 N. Water St., to come to them, rather than the other way around. In response, AJ Bombers will roll out a new catering service, offering a mobile burger bar as well as a la carte options.

“For years the Milwaukee community has been asking us for a way to bring our burgers and burger bar to them, so we’re thrilled that we can now do just that for any office, park or backyard party through our new catering services,” said Chris Adams, chief operating officer at Benson’s Restaurant Group, in a statement.

Benson’s Group also operates Blue Bat KitchenSmoke Shack, Onesto, Bridgewater Modern Grill and The Edison, and is the franchisor of Zaffiro’s pizza brand.

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Two New Concepts Bring 3rd Street Market Hall to Capacity

3rd Street Market Hall opened its doors to the public in early 2022, bringing a slate of new dining concepts to Downtown and marking a major leap forward for the revival of the former Grand Avenue Mall.

The progress amazed Albert Yee, a four-decade dining industry veteran and concessionaire who created festival vendor MilWOKee. He watched as concept after concept joined the food hall, with purveyors serving arepas, sushi, barbeque, pizza and hot dogs, all arriving in quick succession.

And yet, something was missing.

“I couldn’t help but think, ‘why is there no Chinese food or fresh seafood?’” Yee said in a statement. “I figured now was the chance to make that happen.”

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POP Sets Opening Date in Walker’s Point

POP may be more than a week out from its opening day, but music is already blaring at the upcoming Walker’s Point bar and restaurant, 124 W. National Ave. Inside, leadership and staff are fine-tuning the menu and finalizing plans as dance beats bounce off the brightly-colored walls.

Following its opening, set for Sept. 8, POP plans to expand on the neighborhood’s existing LGBTQ scene, bringing carefully-curated music, themed cocktails and special events such as drag brunches to the several-block area that’s already home to more than six gay and lesbian bars.

The neighborhood is also home to Marcus Wise; the industry veteran and owner of POP has lived nearby for nearly a decade with his husband, Dan.

“This is meant to be great for our whole neighborhood,” Wise said, noting that he and his fellow bar owners are aiming to create a community that “everybody in the city wants to come to, and that people come from out of town to visit.”

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Prominent New York Bar to Pop Up at PufferFish

Amor Y Amargo has just eight seats at its cozy digs in Lower Manhattan, but come September, Milwaukeeans will be able to pull up a chair in their home city for a pop-up from the bitters-focused bar, to be held at downtown’s PufferFish.

The event, sponsored by Misguided Spirits, will mark the official launch of the brand in Wisconsin.

Amor Y Amargo, Spanish for love and bitter, got its start in 2011. The bar, a project of mixology giants Sother Teague and Bruce Shultz, serves as a love letter to the high-proof botanical seasonings, or bitters. With its curated selection of neat pours and bitters-forward cocktails — stirred, not shaken, hold the mixer — Amor Y Amargo quickly rose to prominence and is now consistently ranked among the world’s best bars.

On Thursday, Sept. 7, PufferFish will provide a warm, Milwaukee welcome for Amor Y Amargo, hosting the bar for a pop-up at its rooftop space. A former pop-up itself, PufferFish is now permanently situated atop Hotel Metro, 411 E. Mason St.

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From Flames to Fortune, Heirloom MKE Opens in Bay View

Last Saturday, guests filled the dining room at 2378 S. Howell Ave. for the first time in over four months. The room was full of happy chatter, clinking silverware and upbeat background music — the sounds of a successful opening night.

Heirloom MKE hosted its first public service on Aug. 26. The restaurant, a brick-and-mortar version of the popular food truck, replaced Lazy Susan at the address.

And though from an outsider’s view, the restaurant seemed to come together in a matter of months, the project has been years in the making for owners Pete and Jess Ignatiev

The couple, both industry veterans, had long dreamed of opening their own restaurant — and were on the verge of doing so in early 2020 until the pandemic derailed their plans. Undeterred, they pivoted to launching Heirloom MKE, a “farm-to-truck” mobile business, later that same year.

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North Avenue Market Founder Reflects on First Year

For many Milwaukeeans, Sept. 7 is a day just like any other. That includes Chris Harris Morse — despite the fact that the date marks the first anniversary of North Avenue Market, which he founded in 2022.

Although grateful for the milestone, Harris Morse said he is hesitant to hyper-focus on just one day, preferring to take each one as it comes. “There are 364 other days that are just as important,” he said.

And those 364 days have not gone to waste. Since its opening last September, North Avenue Market, 5900 W. North Ave., has established itself as a community hub that strives to be welcoming and accessible to all.

That means hosting inclusive events such as sapphic friending nights and drag brunches, featuring a diverse lineup of vendors and recognizing oft-overlooked details such as ensuring the lower level’s artificial grass is wheelchair-friendly.

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Restaurants Aim to Increase River Center Traffic

When thinking of quick office lunches or mid-meeting afternoon snacks, steaming bowls of ramen, freshly-shucked oysters and caviar don’t typically come to mind.

But the Associated Bank River Center is looking to change that, with the end goal of enticing more office workers to return to the downtown building, 111 E. Kilbourn Ave.

The River Center recently introduced four new dining establishments — two restaurants, a coffee shop and a cocktail lounge — with offerings that run the gamut from ultra-filling sandwiches and spicy taco bowls to citrusy ceviche and seasonal panna cotta.

Together, the concepts comprise River Center Market, a project of  hospitality management company 41Fork. Kaelyn Cervero leads the newly-formed group, whose other clients include Noble Catering & Events, Pizza Man, Gülden Room and Timmer’s Resort in West Bend.

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Blues Bar Planned for Midtown Neighborhood

A shuttered northside tavern could get new life under a new proposal pending before the City of Milwaukee.

Anthony Ashwood and Randy Boatman are requesting a liquor license to operate Dino’s Place, a blues bar and lounge. The new business would open at 2911 W. North Ave., the former site of T Jay’s Lounge.

The city shut down the previous bar in late 2021 following a triple shooting that occurred inside the establishment earlier that year. Following the closure, the building remained under the ownership of licensee Shanita Cotton for just over two years; Dino’s Place LLC, which lists Boatman as a registered agent, acquired the property in April.

A license application notes that Ashwood and Boatman paid $55,000 for the business. The building was sold for $37,000, according to city records.

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Twisted Cafe Closes for Relocation

Twisted Cafe is temporarily closed as the business prepares to reopen in a new location. The restaurant and hookah lounge hosted its final brunch service earlier this month.

And though guests will no longer be able to visit the original location at 1505 N. Farwell Ave., Twisted Cafe continues to offer its most popular dishes through a series of pop-ups at Tropic, a Jamaican restaurant and lounge. Brunches take place every Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 518 N. Water St.

The pop-up menu features nearly a dozen choices ranging from indulgent, coconut cream-infused golden waffles with ice cream to crispy, spicy wings tossed in soy garlic parmesan, Korean sweet chili BBQ, twisted chicken hot or honey buffalo sauce.

There’s also a mega-filling breakfast burger topped with Canadian bacon, onions, American cheese, a fried egg and special sauce; french toast stuffed with honey ham, Swiss cheese and a fried egg; and a fried chicken sandwich with Japanese mayo.

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Who’s on Layton Opens Near Airport

Who’s on Layton, the latest concept from industry veterans Bobby Wiltgen and Jack Roman, is gearing up to welcome its first guests Monday evening.

A sibling to Downtown’s Who’s on Third, the new establishment will expand on the existing sports bar concept, offering a similar menu of beer and pub fare in a spacious and sports-oriented atmosphere.

It will also mark the newest addition to Cream City Concepts, a hospitality brand affiliated with Wiltgen and Roman that operates Who’s on Third, Oak Barrel Public House and Third Street Tavern.

“We’re really excited to be part of the Garden District and assimilate ourselves with the neighborhood, get to know people and hopefully build a solid, regular base,” Wiltgen told Urban Milwaukee in February.

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Burrito Bueno Restaurant For Sale

Burrito Bueno, a Mexican restaurant that has operated for more than two decades along W. Appleton Avenue in the Columbus Park neighborhood, is for sale.

Owner Marco Arteaga confirmed the news Friday afternoon, telling Urban Milwaukee he plans to retire.

An online listing describes the business, 8238 W. Appleton Ave., as an “excellent opportunity to operate a restaurant with excellent parking,” also touting its high-traffic location near the intersection of W. Appleton and W. Hampton avenues.

Along with the 2,360-square-foot restaurant, the property includes an outdoor patio and 31 parking spaces for employees and customers. The single-story restaurant building was constructed in 1962.

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Silver City InterNational Festival Returns

As the South Side anticipates the return of its signature dining week, one Milwaukee neighborhood will get an early start on the festivities.

Silver City InterNational Festival will return for its 12th installment on Sept. 9, serving as a precursor to the upcoming globally-inspired feast.

The festival, presented by VIA CDC, takes place on W. National Avenue between 33rd and 35th streets from noon until 5 p.m. The Ethnic and Diverse Business Coalition (EDBC) is sponsoring the event.

“The Silver City InterNational Festival is a vibrant and lively event that celebrates the diversity and culture of our communities,” said a statement from the organizers.”

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