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Central Standard Adds ‘Rocket Pop’ Bottled Cocktail

Plus: Four new restaurants planned, BBQ joint relocating and Ardent reopening.

By - May 12th, 2024 02:07 pm
Rocket Pop pour-ready cocktail. Photo courtesy of Central Standard Craft Distillery.

Rocket Pop pour-ready cocktail. Photo courtesy of Central Standard Craft Distillery.

Remember Rocket Pops? The nostalgic frozen treat is making a comeback this summer — with a grown-up twist.

Central Standard Craft Distillery is expanding its line of pour-ready cocktails with Rocket Pop, a boozy take on the blue raspberry and cherry-flavored popsicles that is spiked with Door County Cherry Vodka.

The bottled cocktail hit shelves across the state on May 10, and will be available at events such as the Wisconsin State Fair and Bastille Days throughout the summer.

“We’re kicking off the season with a cocktail that embodies Wisconsin summers,” said Pat McQuillan, co-founder of Central Standard Craft Distillery, in a statement. “We set out to create a flavor that’s nostalgic to Midwesterners, bringing forward memories of beach days, festivals and other summer celebrations.”

The new addition joins several existing cocktails in Central Standard’s pour-ready line, which launched in 2022. Other offerings include Door County Cherry Vodka Lemonade, Door County Cherry Vodka Mule, Red Cabin Lemon Honey Bourbon Smash and Red Cabin Peach Bourbon Smash.

The pour-ready Rocket Pop cocktail has an ABV of 15% and is sold in both 750-milliliter and 1.75-liter bottles. For more information about where to purchase the cocktail, see Central Standard’s product locator.

Ardent Reopening Next Week With New Offerings

During the course of its decade-long tenure on the Lower East Side, Ardent has emerged as a fine dining restaurant fueled by passion and — at times — intensity.

There’s no doubt that Ardent has lived up to its name, which evokes fiery warmth and zealousness; however, chef and owner Justin Carlisle hopes to bring down the heat as he leads the restaurant into its 11th year.

“To re-evaluate how we started — looking back 10 years ago — we never wanted to be a pretentious, all-inclusive place that people thought they couldn’t get into, or they’d have to wait three months for,” Carlisle said. “Unfortunately when people hear the name Ardent, that’s what they think of, and I don’t want people to think that way anymore.”

The restaurant, 1751 N. Farwell Ave., now a dual-concept space encompassing Ardent Tasting Room and Ardent Bar + Lounge, will soon return to service after a wintertime hiatus.

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Junior’s Smoked BBQ is Moving

Amaranth Bakery is one of Allison Trice‘s favorite places to visit. Soon, it will house her business.

Trice, who co-owns Junior’s Smoked BBQ with her partner, Kevin Junior, is a longtime patron of the bakery, 3329 W. Lisbon Ave. She raves about its cookies, scones, croissants and pot pies — and pretty much everything else.

“There is nothing that they can’t do. Nothing,” Trice said. “All other bakeries don’t compare.”

After more than a decade spent patronizing the bakery, Trice and Junior are moving in. The pair, who have operated Junior’s at Sherman Phoenix Marketplace for roughly two and a half years, will exit that location this month and relocate to a shared kitchen at Amaranth.

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Taco Pros Coming to Marquette Campus

A regional Mexican food chain is preparing to join the Milwaukee market this summer, with plans for a new location near the Marquette University campus.

Franchisee Dharmesh Ghelani plans to open Taco Pros at 1400 W. Wells St., bringing Mexican dishes like tacos, burritos and margaritas to the corner building that previously housed Burger King.

“Our menu caters to young and old — everybody loves tacos,” he told Urban Milwaukee.

The restaurant will focus on quick service, catering to nearby college students who are often on the go. But it also aims to appeal to families, Ghelani said, and will be open late-night during the weekends.

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Soul Food Tour Highlights Area Restaurants

A dozen Milwaukee-area soul food restaurants are slated to participate in this year’s Soul Food Tour MKE, each presenting a unique take on the Southern-rooted cuisine throughout the month of May.

The annual event, presented by the Wisconsin Black Chamber of Commerce and Jammin’ 98.3, invites diners to sample featured dishes — each priced at $10 — from a lineup of local restaurants.

The 2024 tour kicked off last week, featuring specials from Sherman Park Grocery, Warren’s Lounge and Cream City Sports Bar.

On Tuesday, Coaches is serving pork chops and a choice of two sides, with options including macaroni and cheese, candied yams, greens and fries. The restaurant is located at 1125 N. 9th St., inside the Eleven25 food court.

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New Steakhouse Planned For East Town

A prominent restaurant space in East Town could get new life as an upscale steakhouse under a proposal from entrepreneur Jessica Orr.

801 Restaurant, described on a license application as “fine dining with a casual atmosphere,” is slated to open at 801 N. Jefferson St., the former site of Louise’s.

The upcoming restaurant would reactivate the former restaurant, which has sat vacant for more over five years, restoring food and drink, entertainment, sidewalk dining and more to the property.

A proposed menu for 801 Restaurant showcases high-end cuts of meat including tomahawk ribeye, filet mignon, New York strip steak and Japanese Wagyu A-5 filet mignon and others, along with sides such as twice-baked potatoes, roasted asparagus, sauteed spinach, macaroni and cheese, caramelized brussels sprouts and truffled mash.

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Pizza Man Owners Purchase Downer Avenue Building

Pizza Man‘s new owners are one step closer to reopening the restaurant on Downer Avenue.

Bayside Mgmt, LLC purchased the 6,313-square-foot restaurant space at 2597 N. Downer Ave., according to a press release from Mid-America Real Estate Group. A sign permit for Pizza Man is pending approval at the same address.

Thomas Schafer, registered agent for the entity, is also co-owner of Pizza Man. He, along with business partner Krzysztof Zielinski, acquired the business from Za Man LLC in early 2024.

Brokers Dan Rosenfeld and Andrew Prater represented the seller, Bridge33 Capital, in the transaction. The firm still owns much of the surrounding commercial corridor.

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Judy’s Mexican Restaurant Relocating to Farwell Avenue

Judy’s on North plans to open a new brick-and-mortar restaurant on Farwell Avenue this summer, after a December fire caused major damage to its previous location, 2207 E. North Ave.

The Mexican restaurant, run by mother-son duo Judith Figueroa and Kevin Lopez, has been operating out of a food truck since February.

Although it arose from tragedy, the mobile concept has come with some benefits, said Lopez. Namely, it’s helped to grow the restaurant’s customer base.

“I do enjoy it,” Lopez said. “We’re on wheels, we have some nice lights, it’s been bringing in some new customers but definitely a lot of the regulars are still visiting.”

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Wing Zone Opening Soon on Capitol Drive

Wing Zone is preparing to rejoin the Milwaukee market this month, with plans to open its first location in the city since 2010.

Franchisees Matt and Jodie Schroeder announced Friday that the restaurant, 138 East Capitol Dr., will welcome guests for a grand opening on Tuesday, May 7.

Wing Zone, a Las Vegas-based chain, specializes in Nashville hot chicken sandwiches, tenders and wings; the preparation is distinctive for its spicy flavor, crunchy texture and bright-red hue.

The Milwaukee restaurant will occupy a 1,400-square-foot retail space — previously the site of a T-Mobile store — within a larger shopping complex anchored by Outpost Natural Foods.

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Mexican Restaurant That Was Pandemic Casualty Reopening on Blue Mound Road

After a four-year absence, Fat Valdy’s plans to reopen this summer with a modern ambience, revamped menu and fresh approach to Mexican cuisine.

The restaurant, 5108 W. Blue Mound Rd., closed in fall 2020 amid the pandemic. It was briefly replaced by Caliente Latin Kitchen & Rum , which opened in early 2021. The building has been vacant for more than a year.

Upon its return to service, Fat Valdy’s aims to lean into authenticity, offering handmade tortillas, arepas, gorditas and huaraches, as well as fresh-sliced tacos de pastor.

“It’s going to be very traditional Mexican, as if you were eating at home,” said Patricia Ruiz-Cantu, who is partnering with Valdemar Escobar, the original owner of Fat Valdy’s, for the project.

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Gluten-Free Festival Returns to Lakefront Brewery

The third annual Maifest is set to return to Lakefront Brewery later this month, offering a full day of gluten-free programming while celebrating the arrival of warmer weather.

The spring-themed festival is scheduled to take place on Sunday, May 19 inside the beer hall, 1872 N. Commerce St., offering food, beverages, flower crowns and myriad other wheat-free festivities.

Kristin Hueneke, executive chef for Lakefront Brewery, said the festival’s popularity has cemented its status as an annual event — at least for now.

“If the people keep on coming, we’ll continue to make space for them,” she said in a statement. “We’re just happy to be able to provide a safe, gluten-free event for the community.”

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