Arts @ Large aims to enhance community center offerings with F&B partnerships

Cafe slated for late May opening, building opens July 19

A student intern serves coffee at the cafe that Arts @ Large previously operated in its current space. Courtesy of Arts @ Large

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:21 pm

As Arts @ Large prepares to open its new community center in Walker’s Point, the local nonprofit is tapping into Milwaukee’s food and beverage industry for partnerships and opportunities to expand its services.

Arts @ Large, which provides arts education services for Milwaukee Public Schools’ students, has teamed up with several locally-based vendors including Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co., Burke Candy & Ingredients, Purple Door Ice Cream, Clock Shadow Creamery, V. Marchese Inc., Batches, and Breadsmith as it rolls out plans for a full-service cafe and culinary arts training center at its new facility.

Since June last year, Arts @ Large has been working on a $6.4 million renovation project to transform a three-story, 129-year-old building at the southeast corner of Washington and 5th streets into a center for “arts-based initiatives.”

The 11,000-square-foot building will function as organization’s new home and will house a student art gallery, multiple art studios, a professional development hub, a public and private event space and office space for five area nonprofits and small businesses: Reflo Sustainable Water Solutions, Milwaukee Preservation Alliance, Legacy Home Healthcare LLC, Wisconsin Reading Corps and this year’s Wisconsin Poet Laureate Margaret Rozga.

A rendering of Arts @ Large Cafe. Courtesy of Arts @ Large.

Starting May 28, Arts @ Large Cafe will be located on the center’s first floor, adjacent to a gallery and stage area that will showcase student exhibitions and performances.

Its full menu is still being finalized, but so far includes all-day breakfast items such as flatbread, seasonal quiche, a fruit parfait and baked french toast, and light lunch options like salads, sandwiches and soups, said Erin Forsythe, café and culinary arts manager at Arts @ Large.

It will serve a selection of Anodyne Coffee beverages and smoothies, as well as bakery items from Batches in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward and Recess Cheesecake ice cream, a flavor that students recently created with Purple Door Ice Cream in Walker’s Point.

Operating with an almost-full kitchen (the only piece of equipment missing is a hood system), most of the food served will be scratch-made, Forsythe said.

The cafe will double as a classroom for Arts @ Large’s Cafe Business Leadership Program, which was launched a few years ago for Milwaukee Public Schools high school students interested in professions in culinary arts.

It will employ four student interns who will work alongside the cafe’s staff on a weekly basis for a full year, learning skills like cooking, food preparation, management and customer service, Forsythe said.

“They’re really getting that hands-on career development and skill-based learning that will be important for them to get jobs after school,” she said.

Students selected for the program complete a three-week food safety certification course and will also receive barista training from Anodyne Coffee. Another perk is touring some of the vendors’ production facilities.

Arts @ Large Cafe will be open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and closed on Sunday.

In addition to the cafe, having a kitchen allows Arts @ Large to operate a professional in-house catering service for private events such as corporate gatherings, nonprofit galas, private parties and weddings or public events including a monthly concert series and family game nights.

Event planners can work with Arts @ Large to create a custom menu or choose from a curated list of five local catering services: Antigua Latin Inspired Kitchen, Cubanitas, Frankies, Hannah’s Kitchen and Tall Guy and Grill.

Arts @ Large has also partnered with Lost Whale, a cocktail bar in Bay View, to head the beverage side of its event catering service.

“It’s really important to us to be able to offer things that people would expect in a place like this,” said Teri Sullivan, founder and CEO of Arts @ Large. “Our business is focused on education, on providing arts experiences that really help our community grow and that’s where our lane is, but we have so many partners that are helping us to create an experience that everyone can enjoy.”

Arts @ Large Community Center will celebrate its grand opening on July 19. Sullivan said the organization has about $1.3 million left to raise in its capital campaign for the project.

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Maredithe Meyer
Maredithe Meyer started as an intern reporter at BizTimes in summer 2015. She currently covers entertainment, sports, tourism and restaurants. In May 2017, she graduated with a journalism degree from Marquette University where she worked as an in-depth projects reporter for the Marquette Wire and Marquette Tribune.