Downtown RiverWalk Getting Another Restaurant

    Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:35 pm

    Another restaurant will open soon along the downtown Milwaukee RiverWalk. John Chitko, who helped Michael Hemeid open 2 Sweet International Delight, 2128 E. Locust St., Milwaukee, plans to open his first restaurant in the Cawker Building at 106 W. Wells St. The restaurant will be called Yaffa, and its menu will feature Spanish, Moroccan and Middle Eastern food.

    Yaffa will be located next to Butch’s Clock Steak House and Martini Bar, in a 3,400-square-foot space that also has a 1,000-square-foot deck along the RiverWalk. Yaffa will open in late October.

    "It’s a great location," said Chitko, who says he is surprised about the amount of pedestrian traffic he has seen along the RiverWalk near the Cawker Building. "The RiverWalk is being used, absolutely, a lot more than we expected. There are people going up and down it all the time."

    Entrees at Yaffa will cost about $15.50 and none will cost over $23, Chitko said. The atmosphere will be, "very laid back, a New York meets the Meditterrean feel."

    Yaffa will provide valet parking for customers. Wells Street is a one way street used by many people heading into downtown, so Chitko thinks his restaurant will benefit from a highly visible location that is easy to get to, and is on the way to other popular areas of downtown including Water Street, Milwaukee Street and Jefferson Street.

    "It’s pretty much in the middle of everything," Chitko said.

    The restaurant will have seating for about 110 people inside and 50 to 75 people outside along the RiverWalk.

    Several restaurants are located along the RiverWalk, which the city started building in the 1990s. The RiverWalk restaurant lineup includes: Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery, 740 N. Plankinton Ave.; John Hawks Pub, 100 E. Wisconsin Ave.; Milwaukee Ale House, 233 N. Water St.; Third Street Pier, 1110 N. Old World St.; and Riverwalk Bistro, 223 N. Water St. Benihana, 850 N. Plankinton, is located along the river, but its property is not connected to the RiverWalk.

    Riverfront locations are beneficial for restaurants because many of their customers enjoy eating with a view of the water.

    "Just look at what Rock Bottom does in the summer," Chitko said. "That place is packed all the time."

    A new bar will open soon on the RiverWalk. Buckhead Saloon will open on Sept. 16 in the former Bar Milwaukee space at 1044 N. Old World Third St. The 8,000-square-foot bar will have a north woods lodge theme. It is part of a chain that owns bars in Atlanta, Charlotte, Baltimore, Minneapolis and Columbus, Ohio. Buckhead Saloon does not have a kitchen, so it will not serve food but will cater food for complimentary buffets on Thursday and Friday nights, said sales manager Lindsay Bartels.

    Buckhead Saloon will take advantage of the RiverWalk by placing some patio seating there.

    "We are going to be using the RiverWalk," Bartels said. "It was kind of an added perk. It definitely adds to what we want to do."

    However, some building owners along the RiverWalk are still trying to attract restaurant tenants.

    The ASQ Center plans to market 5,600 square feet of space on its first floor as restaurant space. The ASQ Center, which is currently 97 percent occupied, was redeveloped in 2001 by a joint venture of Irgens Development Partners LLC and Williams Development Corp. The occupants in the building include the 131-room Residence Inn by Marriott, Borders Books and Music, AG Edwards & Sons, Kahler Slater Architects and Visit Milwaukee.

    "Our location on the river and in the heart of downtown, our multiple skywalk connections, the proximity of our hotel, and the ongoing condominium boom make this space a very attractive restaurant location," said William Orenstein, president of Williams Development Corp.

    The former Tula’s location, 117 E. Wells St., has been vacant since the restaurant closed late last year. It is owned by Taxman Investment Co., and is being marketed by The Polacheck Company Inc.

    The 3,000-square-foot restaurant also has a 1,200-square-foot three-season porch along the RiverWalk and a 3,000-square-foot lower level kitchen for catering. Taxman Investments also owns a three-story, 12,000-square-foot vacant building, located between Tula’s and the RiverWalk, which is also available for lease.

    Whoever leases Tula’s will also

    be able to use its equipment, dishes

    and glassware.

    Taxman Investments wants to choose the right tenant to occupy the former Tula’s space, said Polacheck senior vice president Sandy Golden.

    "We’ve had a lot of interest in Tula’s but no one with a solid business plan that the landlord would feel comfortable with," Golden said. "The ownership wants to feel comfortable that whomever takes this prime position has the wherewithal to be successful."

    Other Milwaukee news

    Milwaukee restaurant and bar owner R.C. Schmidt is building a new restaurant and bar in a vacant warehouse at the intersection of East Juneau Avenue and North Edison Street in downtown Milwaukee. Schmidt has received a building permit for the project, city officials said, and construction crews have begun gutting and doing early-stage renovations there. Repeated calls to Schmidt and the Zimmerman Design Group, which has been contracted to design the new restaurant, were not returned. City of Milwaukee records indicate the building, which has a street address of 1144 N. Edison St., is about 24,000 square feet. Schmidt owns several Water Street area restaurants including Brew City Bar-B-Q, Water Street Brewery and Rudy’s. His other establishments include Historic Turner Restaurant, Oakland Trattoria, and Water Street Lake Country Brewery.

    Waukesha State Bank plans Muskego branch

    Waukesha State Bank plans to open its ninth full-service branch at Janesville Road and Princeton Drive in Muskego. Construction on the Prairie style, 5,000-square-foot building will begin this fall. The bank is expected to open in April. It will have four drive-up windows and a drive-up ATM. The office space will include a meeting room that will be available for community and civic groups to use for free. Waukesha State Bank has about $606 million in assets. Its other branches are in Delafield, Oconomowoc, Pewaukee and Waukesha. "We are very pleased to have this opportunity to serve Muskego’s vibrant and growing community with our newest office," said Waukesha State Bank president and chief executive officer Ty Taylor. Another bank is planning to open a branch nearby. Milwaukee-based M&I Bank plans to build a 4,600-square-foot branch at the southwest corner of Janesville Road and Moorland Road.

    Penzeys adds

    more area stores

    Brookfield-based Penzeys Spices recently opened a store on South 74th Street in Greenfield near Southridge Mall and plans to open another store in a 2,300-square-foot space at 5524 N. Port Washington Road.

    It will be the 27th store in 16 states for Penzeys, which sells more than 250 different varieties of spices, seasonings and herbs. The company only has one other store in the metro Milwaukee area, its flagship store in the headquarters building at 19300 W. Janacek Court, Brookfield.

    "We found that having just one store in the Milwaukee market, our hometown, wasn’t enough," said Penzeys spokesperson Margie Gibbons.

    The company plans to open eight other retail stores this year, including locations in the Detroit and Dallas areas, she said.

    Marriott Milwaukee West sold

    Minneapolis-based CSM Lodging announced recently that it has purchased the 238-room Marriott Milwaukee West hotel, located off I-94 on County Highway F in Waukesha, from Fort Mitchell, Ky.-based Columbia Sussex Corp. The purchase price was not disclosed. CSM Lodging owns and operates 38 hotels in the United States under the Marriott, Hilton and Carlson brands. The company also owns the Country Inn & Suites-Milwaukee West and the TownePlace Suites by Marriott-Milwauke/Brookfield.

    Ben & Jerry’s coming to Milwaukee area

    South Burlington, Vt.-based Ben & Jerry’s recently opened an ice cream scoop shop on State Street in Madison. The company has over 450 scoop shops, but the new Madison location is the only one in Wisconsin. However, the owners of the Madison scoop shop, Dan Beeman and John Frankenthal, plan to open two locations in the Milwaukee area in the next three years, said spokesperson Carie Beeman. The Milwaukee area locations have not been determined yet, she said.


    Mark Schraith plans to open a Vino 100 franchise at 1442 Underwood Ave. The wine store would occupy about 1,500 square feet in the building, which was once a post office. Vino 100 is a Philadelphia-based chain of wine stores with 13 locations across the U.S. and another 20 stores planned. This would be the first Vino 100 store in Wisconsin. Plans for the Wauwatosa store include a small bar area and patio.

    John Kubissak and Gregory Morrison plan to open a Topper’s Pizza location in a strip mall at 12132 W. Capitol Dr. Whitewater-based Topper’s Pizza has 12 locations in Wisconsin, Minnesota and North Carolina. The 26,330-square-foot building is owned by Robert Lacourciere. Other recently announced tenants include Quizno’s and Noodles & Company.

    Walgreens plans to open a store at 6700 W. State St. The Deerfield, Ill.-based drugstore chain has more than 4,600 stores in 44 states and Puerto Rico. Walgreens has 25 locations within five miles of the State Street location, the closest at 6950 W. State St.

    West Bend

    John Kreilkamp plans to develop a 66-acre industrial park, to be called River Road Industrial Park, located west of County Highway G and a half-mile south of Rusco Drive. The property was recently annexed by the City of West Bend. Most of the property is zoned for heavy industrial use and the rest is zoned for light industrial. "The industrial park will be one of the few areas in West Bend that will have direct rail access," said Mark Piotrowicz, assistant director of community development for West Bend. Some Milwaukee area real estate brokers have said that there is a lack of land available in industrial parks in southeastern Wisconsin, which could lead to more development of industrial parks.


    Nicholas Williams plans to open a Twist n’ Olive martini lounge at 2726-36 Hillside Dr.

    Starbucks plans to open a 1,870-square-foot coffee shop in the Shoppes at Nagawaukee at Highway 83 and Golf Road. The store will open this fall, said Greg Kost, principal of TOLD Development Co., which is developing the Shoppes at Nagawaukee. Starbucks has 9,000 retail locations in the world, including one at the Target store in Delafield.


    Jim Kaysen and Lakeside Development want to demolish a warehouse at the southwest corner of Jackson Street and Washington Avenue and build a two-story, 12,000-square-foot building in its place. The building would have 6,000 square feet on the first floor for a physical therapist. The second floor would have five condominiums. The plans are getting a preliminary review from city officials. The size of the proposed building may have to be reduced to address parking issues, said City Planner John Censky.

    Andrew Weiland is the managing editor of Small Business Times. Send news about commercial real estate to or by calling him at (414) 277-8181 ext. 120. News can also be sent to Andrew Weiland, Small Business Times, 1123 N. Water St., Milwaukee, WI 53202.

    August 19, 2005, Small Business Times, Milwaukee, WI

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