Culver’s moving out of Shops of Grand Avenue

Will relocate to new building planned at Wendts Pub site in Greenfield

Culvers sign

After 11 years, the Culver’s franchise at The Shops of Grand Avenue in downtown Milwaukee will close Sunday and reopen in the summer 2016 at 60th Street and Layton Avenue in Greenfield.

Culver’s owner, Mike Busalacchi is planning to purchase Wendts Pub and Grill, 6031 W Layton Ave. He will tear down the building and build a new 4,300-square-foot Culver’s restaurant on the site.

“This is our opportunity to get out of the mall – after 10 years of hearing what was going to be improved there, and then it not happening – and a chance to have a free-standing location,” Busalacchi said.

Busalacchi also owns the Culver’s on Miller Park Way in West Milwaukee,  a Culver’s in Jackson and two Culver’s in Naples, Fla. During construction, the 12 employees from the Grand Avenue restaurant will be moved to the West Milwaukee location.

Busalacchi said once the Greenfield location is open, he will likely have 60-65 employees at that site, which will be much larger than the current 1,600-square foot Grand Avenue location.

A Meijer grocery store is being built kitty-corner to Busalacchi’s new restaurant and the Culver’s will not be far from Greenfield High School.

“We will have 350,000 people in a five-mile radius,” Busalacchi said.

Culver’s, which is based in Prairie du Sac, Wis., has 550 locations in 22 states.

After deciding to leave Grand Avenue Mall,  Busalacchi heard the property had been sold. Still, he is skeptical new ownership will make improvements to the downtown Milwaukee mall.

On Friday, the mall and its parking structure was purchased by a group that includes Milwaukee-based Interstate Parking Co. and Minneapolis-based Hempel Cos. for $24.6 million from Alexander Levin, a New York investor, who has owned the property since purchasing it in an online auction last fall for $16.5 million.

“I’ve been through four owners since Northwestern Mutual sold the mall, and everyone has great ideas,” Busalachhi said. “There is nothing the new owners are going to do there. In my opinion, the mall needs to come down and a huge park or something that can serve the downtown needs to be built. I don’t see that mall ever coming back as a retail center.”

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