Sophie Bolich

Brady Street’s Balzac Will Close

The final service for wine bar and small plates restaurant will be on Nov. 22.

By - Nov 13th, 2023 05:27 pm


Site of Balzac, 1716 N. Arlington Pl. Photo taken Nov. 13, 2023 by Sophie Bolich.

Site of Balzac, 1716 N. Arlington Pl. Photo taken Nov. 13, 2023 by Sophie Bolich.

Balzac, a Lower East Side destination for wine and small plates, will close its doors at the end of November. Fans of the cozy bar should plan to pay a final visit before the final service on Nov. 22.

The closure, which comes just shy of Balzac’s 19th anniversary, is related to the lingering effects of the pandemic, said co-owner Leslie Montemurro.

“What can I say, closing a restaurant is never easy… but this one is extremely difficult,” she said in a statement. “The truth is — and I know you’ve heard it before — but since the pandemic, everything has changed. The perpetual obstacles of labor shortages, increasing costs, slower than expected sales numbers, and supply chain issues are just too much of a hindrance to business. It’s time to pause and re-evaluate.”

Montemurro co-owns the restaurant, 1716 N. Arlington Pl., with Scott Johnson. The pair are longtime industry veterans in Milwaukee, whose careers have included full or part-ownership of Comet CafeFinks, BelAir Cantina and the now-closed Fuel Cafe on Center Street.

In August 2022, Montemurro and Johnson stepped away from their leadership roles at BelAir, leaving partners Kristyn Eitel and chef Noe Zamora to lead the local chain. At that time, Eitel also took ownership of Finks and Fuel Cafe in Walker’s Point.

Montemurro and Johnson remain majority owners of Hi-Hat Lounge and Hi-Hat Garage. Eitel is also part owner.

Balzac hopes to leave a legacy of trailblazing in the Milwaukee food scene, the owners noted in a news release. “Balzac paved the way for many modern restaurants and restaurateurs in the mid 2000s with its innovative approach to dining; something that was still in its infancy stages in Milwaukee’s food scene,” Montemurro and Johnson said of the bar and restaurant, which opened in 2005.

“Throughout the last 18 years, Balzac has been the start and home of some of our city’s most revered chefs, all bringing unique perspectives and food to Balzac’s diners.”

The pair also touted Balzac’s “impressive yet approachable wine program.” The offerings are indeed expansive, with nearly 150 options on the list, including sparkling, orange/skin contact/rose, white, red, sangria and dessert wines.

Balzac also offers a selection of beer, cider, mead and seltzer, as well as traditional and zero-proof cocktails.

The tapas-style food menu features a variety of small plates and shareable options including charcuterie boards, pan-seared snapper, cherry-smoked mussels, pork belly bao, a cheeseburger and much more. With popular allergens, vegetarian and vegan options flagged on the menu, Balzac offers a dish to please every palate.

Throughout the next week, Montemurro invites the community to stop in and raise a glass to 18 years of Balzac.

“We know that so many people have cherished Balzac and we sincerely appreciate all the people that have made Balzac such a treasure over the years,” she said.

Balzac will be open Sunday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday through Saturday from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. through Wednesday, Nov. 22.

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Categories: Food & Drink

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