Sophie Bolich
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Cavas Reopening on Valentine’s Day

Plus: Eitel cancels plaza cafe, Kuumba Coffee and Juice opens and farewell to The Estate.

By - Feb 11th, 2024 12:11 pm
Site of Cavas. Photo taken Jan. 9, 2023 by Sophie Bolich.

Site of Cavas. Photo taken Jan. 9, 2023 by Sophie Bolich.

After a month-long hiatus, Cavas will return to service just in time for Valentine’s Day, offering an exclusive six-course pairing menu to mark the occasion.

“Get ready to be whisked away to the heart of Spain with our new brand, fresh decor, and an exquisite six-course menu that celebrates love and passion,” chef and owner Ana Docta wrote in a recent social media post.

The aphrodisiac-laced meal will open with a French-inspired first course of vol au vent filled with smoked salmon, cream cheese and caviar, followed by a charcuterie board featuring Spanish ham, housemade bread, manchego and more. The meal will also include raw oysters with fresh cherry mignonette, pistachio-crusted lamb chops and strawberry panna cotta, finishing with the boldly titled Happy Ending, a dessert course featuring macarons and 20-year aged Spanish Brandy de Jerez.

Just one question remains: do you believe in love at first bite?

The meal is priced at $150 per person. Reservations are available at 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Feb. 14. Seating is very limited at the restaurant, 401 E. Erie St., and reservations are required. Book a table online.

New Entertainers Gets 15-Day Suspension

Milwaukee alderpersons are accustomed to working directly with local businesses, monitoring activity and advocating for improved safety. Last fall, however, Alderwoman Larresa Taylor inadvertently found herself at the center of the action at a business — not as a city official, but as a bystander.

During a visit to the New Entertainers tavern last October, Taylor witnessed a patron exit the place and fire six shots from a gun. While nobody was injured, the incident caused a stir throughout the neighborhood.

“I saw patrons that were running in the middle of the street,” she told the Milwaukee Licenses Committee on Jan. 5.

The gunplay was one of three instances of shots fired in a single week at the premises at 5321 W. Green Tree Rd. It was also a factor in the alderwoman’s decision to rescind a previously-issued warning letter for the business and instead return the matter of its license renewal to committee.

Read the full article

New Italian Restaurant To Replace Tavolino

A new Italian restaurant is slated for the East Side, offering handmade pastas and other traditional dishes, along with wine and seasonal cocktails.

L’incontro, Italian for ‘meeting’ or ‘encounter,’ plans to open this spring at 2315 N. Murray Ave., between the Izzy Hops bar and Kawa restaurant.

The space that L’incontro will occupy has sat empty since Tavolino‘s abrupt — and controversialclosure last October. Amid the search for a new tenant, building owner Mike Vitucci found his solution closer than expected: right next door.

Paul Piotrowski, manager of Izzy Hops, will partner with Tavolino’s former head chef, Juneil Cabreza, for the new venture. The pair boast a wealth of industry experience in both front-of and back-of-house positions across the city.

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Brostoff Reverses Tavern Suspension for Axel’s

Last winter, a Milwaukee police officer walked into Axel’s. Shouting over the dive bar’s thumping music, he told underage patrons to leave the bar immediately.

“This is your one chance,” he said, holding up a finger.

A few seconds later, more than three dozen patrons stood up and filed out of the building. The incident, which was captured on video and distributed across multiple social media platforms, was just one of several cases of underage drinking found at the tavern throughout the past several years.

The pattern captured the attention of the Licenses Committee, which on Jan. 23 recommended a 20-day suspension for the East Side tavern, 2859 N. Oakland Ave.

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Sweetly Baked Opening Third Ward Cafe

Sweetly Baked has been lifting spirits since 2021 with its signature homemade desserts. This spring, the mobile dessert bar plans to expand with a new bakery and cafe in the Historic Third Ward.

The upcoming location would take over a space within the Marshall Building, 207 E. Buffalo St., which was previously home to Press Waffles. If all goes well, the cafe could open as soon as April.

“I cannot wait to be a part of that community,” said owner Amanda Buhrman, noting that she hopes the new location will be a “go-to dessert spot” for the neighborhood.

The cafe will offer a variety of baked goods including cookies, brownies and macarons. Buhrman said she plans to continue to develop the menu, with the possibility of adding scones and cinnamon rolls, along with a few savory items.

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McBob’s Transitions to New Ownership

On a recent weekday evening, Katy Klinnert surveyed the dining room at McBob’s Pub and Grill and felt her heart swell with pride.

“I looked around and I thought, ‘this is Milwaukee,'” she said. “If you’ve ever wanted a glimpse into the reality of what this city is like: it is diverse, it is beautiful, it is ‘Midwest nice.'”

Klinnert, along with her business partner and longtime friend, Sara McConville, are poised to take ownership of the bar and restaurant, 4919 W. North Ave., which has operated for more than three decades in the Washington Heights neighborhood. The pair expect to officially close on the sale Tuesday, Feb. 6. From there, they’ll continue working closely with the current owners, Steve and Christine McRoberts, to facilitate a smooth transition.

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Restaurants Offer Special Events For February Holidays

February has officially arrived, and with it, a confluence of holidays. The Lunar New Year, Mardi Gras and Valentine’s Day — along with Super Bowl Sunday — all take place during a five-day stretch beginning Feb. 10 and concluding on Feb. 14.

Milwaukee bars and restaurants are divided on which of the four occasions to celebrate — a positive for diners, who now have their pick of specialized menus featuring everything from dumplings to Buffalo wings and king cake to chocolate strawberries.

Lunar New Year

Traditional foods for Lunar New Year include changshou mian (longevity noodles), whole fish and citrus fruit, all of which are said to bring good luck, happiness and prosperity to the new year. DanDan, Momo Mee and RuYi will all offer specialty menus featuring these dishes and others to usher in the year of the dragon.

At DanDan, 360 E. Erie St., guests can expect spring rolls stuffed with shrimp and lobster, longevity noodles, fried lotus root, candied mandarin oranges and more on the restaurant’s Year of the Dragon menu. The customizable experience offers four courses for $80 and is available for dine-in only on Feb. 9 and 10. Reservations can be booked online.

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New Bars and Restaurants That Opened in January

Bronzeville Kitchen and Lounge

Restaurateur Paul Whigham launched his newest venture, Bronzeville Kitchen and Lounge, on Jan. 4. The restaurant and lounge, 2053 N. Martin L. King Jr. Dr., serves breakfast, lunch and dinner with an emphasis on soul food — in particular, Whigham’s “famous” shrimp and grits.

Whigham also plans to bring his love of jazz to the establishment, playing the genre over speakers and, eventually, hosting live bands.

Read our earlier coverage


A new cocktail bar opened its doors downtown in early January. Agency, an evening counterpart to Discourse Coffee, 1020 N. Broadway, offers traditional and non-alcoholic versions of each beverage on its menu.

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Eitel Cancels Plans For Vel Phillips Plaza Cafe After Council Questions, Public Opposition

Egg was supposed to be on the menu, not the landlord’s face, at Mike Eitel‘s cafe at Vel R. Phillips Plaza.

The deal to develop the cafe is now dead and no one appears happy, or willing, to talk about why.

Mayor Cavalier Johnson‘s administration announced the proposed cafe to great fanfare in early January. Eitel, owner of Caravan Hospitality Group, would lease the new cafe building across from the Baird Center and anchor the plaza with a cafe that would serve food and drinks all day long. An early morning coffee bar was to transition to a great place to grab a lunch and ultimately a fun place for a happy hour.

The city appeared to have found a winner for its signature $17 million plaza. Eitel operates the Nomad World Pub, SportClub, Barrel Burrito Company and the newly-opened Experts Only bar.

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Milwaukee Pretzel Company Plans Major Expansion

The Bavarian-style pretzel has become ubiquitous at breweries, ballparks and beer gardens. Dipped in mustard or enjoyed on its own, the shareable snack is a crowd-pleaser and goes down easy with a pint of beer.

Its popularity is to be expected, given Milwaukee’s strong German roots. But what may come as a surprise is that, prior to 2013, the city had very few — if any — producers of the giant soft pretzels.

All that changed when Milwaukee Pretzel Company opened its doors just over a decade ago. The business has proven to be fast-growing, far exceeding the expectations of owners Matt and Katie Wessel, who were inspired to launch the business after living abroad in Germany.

And there’s more to look forward to. The couple is planning to expand the footprint of their production facility, 8050 N. Granville Woods Rd.

Read the full article

Beerline Trail Cafe Opens

A community-oriented cafe recently opened in Harambee, bringing food, drinks and a comfortable gathering space to a newly-activated building along the Beerline Trail.

Kuumba Juice and Coffee began its soft opening on Friday, Feb. 2. The cafe is located within the Connector Building, 274 E. Keefe Ave., which opened in September 2023.

After more than three years of preparation, owners Alexander Hagler, Joe Ferch and Ellie Jackson are thrilled to see the project come to fruition. But nobody is more enthusiastic than neighbors, said Ferch, who noted that the trio receives constant questions about the cafe’s opening date — shouted from car windows and called out by passersby — every time they’re at the building.

The cafe will be open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays for the duration of its soft opening. A grand opening date is yet to be announced.

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Former Bay View Bakery is For Sale

On Jan. 8, Lakeside Bakery displayed an open sign in its front window for the final time. Today, a for sale sign hangs in its place.

The Bay View bakery, 1100 E. Oklahoma Ave., permanently closed at the beginning of 2024 after dozens of years of operation. The building, priced at $1.19 million., is now awaiting new owners.

Originally constructed in 1927, the 5,696-square-foot building has operated as a bakery for almost 100 years. That could continue under new ownership.

“It is a great opportunity for another bakery,” said Patrick McGlinn, vice president of Anderson Commercial Group, the firm handling the sale. He noted that both the building and the bakery equipment are for sale, but that the decision ultimately lies with the future buyer.

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Food Hall Would Save Historic Tavern

Years after it was first proposed, a proposal to rehabilitate a 134-year-old Schlitz tied-house tavern and develop a food hall at the corner of N. Humboldt and E. North avenues is moving forward.

Developer Clarence Morse was recommended for approval Tuesday to purchase the former Humboldt Gardens building, 2249 N. Humboldt Ave., for $1.

The low price reflects the high difficulty of what Morse is attempting to do.

A six-stall food cart court would be constructed behind the building, while the first floor of the three-story building would be redeveloped as a bar and indoor seating space. The upper floors would become office space. The basement would house a commercial kitchen.

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The Estate Closes for Regular Business

The Estate, a historic cocktail bar and former jazz club, has closed its doors on the East Side. And though it’s retired from regular business, the venerable establishment will continue to welcome guests for special events.

The change comes as a blow to the neighborhood, where The Estate, 2423 N. Murray Ave., has served as a local watering hole and hepcat hangout for nearly half a century. A silver lining though, is that it will allow the tavern to return to its jazz-focused roots — a previously improbable shift that patrons have fervently requested for more than a year.

Owner John Dye confirmed the closure in an email on Saturday, noting that the tavern quietly closed for regular business in September 2023.

Dye purchased The Estate, formerly known as The Jazz Estate, in 2016. Under his ownership, the business took a step back from its live music background through a rebrand in 2023, which Dye said was a result of consumers’ changing behavior following the COVID-19 pandemic.

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