Bartolotta announces Bacchus as next reopening

Joins Ristorante Bartolotta, Harbor House and Mr. B's

Bacchus - A Bartolotta Restaurant is located on the ground floor of the Cudahy Tower at 925 E. Wells Street in downtown Milwaukee.

Last updated on October 30th, 2020 at 10:31 pm

Bacchus will join the roster of Bartolotta restaurant locations to reopen to the public since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Milwaukee-based Bartolotta Restaurants on Thursday announced a Nov. 11 reopening for its downtown fine dining concept, located on the ground floor of the Cudahy Tower.

Bacchus follows Ristorante Bartolotta in Wauwatosa, Mr. B’s in Brookfield and Harbor House in Milwaukee, which have gradually resumed operations over the past four months with limited menus, reduced hours, and stringent health and safety protocols aimed at mitigating exposure to COVID-19.

Bacchus’s reopening will be no different. Diners will have a choice between two fixed-price menus: a three-course signature menu for $65 and five-course tasting menu for $80. Operating hours are Tuesday through Thursday, with reservations required. 

Bacchus is known for its seasonal, locally-sourced menu and expansive wine list. Last year, the restaurant unveiled a fresh look and menu, thanks to a two-month-long renovation project, said to be one of the final endeavors of late co-founder Joe Bartolotta. 

The company’s safety plan also requires diners to wear face masks when entering the building, in common areas and seated while interacting with staff. Diners will be subject to temperature checks upon entry. Tables are disinfected after each party, and UV-C technology has been installed inside the restaurants to disinfect the air and hard surfaces.

“We have taken a cautiously optimistic approach to our reopening strategy…,” the group’s owner, co-founder and chef Paul Bartolotta said in a statement. “We are staying on a long-term plan to reopen our fine dining restaurants, one at a time, fine tuning its relaunch. Regardless of the headwinds, we are thoughtfully moving forward.”

Bacchus will host its third annual High Steaks Dinner on Dec. 3, as well as its annual Holiday Champagne Dinner on Dec. 17. Tickets are available for purchase on the Bacchus website.

Bartolotta said restaurants are “integral to our social fabric” during a time when leisure activities are limited. He emphasized the importance of reliability when it comes to meeting standards particularly of health and hygiene, on top of food and hospitality.

Lake Park Bistro on Milwaukee’s East Side is expected to reopen next, but an opening date has yet to be announced. In addition to a few restaurant properties, Bartolotta is back in business at its downtown catering venues, Discovery World, the Grain Exchange and the Italian Community Center.

Restarting a 17-property operation from a four-month halt requires a a balance between operating safely and sustaining the business, all while employing as many people as possible, Bartolotta said in an interview with BizTimes earlier this month.

He was discussing the company’s plans to hire almost 80 employees despite mass layoffs internally and across the industry. The goal is to prioritize hiring from within, but also to tap a growing talent pool for new hires, he said.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the group employed 950 people. As of mid-October, more than 220 salaried and hourly employees have been brought back to work. Last month, the company filed a WARN notice with the state Department of Workforce Development announcing layoff extensions for 268 employees.

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Maredithe Meyer
Maredithe Meyer covers restaurants, retail, tourism, and sports and entertainment. She joined BizTimes in 2015, previously as an intern reporter. She earned a degree in journalism from Marquette University in 2017. When she's not on the job, Maredithe coaches field hockey and loves exploring her favorite city on earth, Milwaukee.

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