Steve Ozbolt, owner of South Milwaukee-based Emerald City Catering, is taking his business to new heights with his recent purchase of a 7,898-square-foot banquet hall on Milwaukee’s south side, which will allow the catering service to host events and prepare larger quantities of food.
The two-story building, located at 3555 S. 13th St. formerly housed long time Milwaukee-based catering company Walker’s Maple Grove, which closed last month after almost 60 years, according to its website.
Emerald City Catering will be open for business at its new location on April 27, just in time to host its first Friday night fish fry and family-style Sunday brunch– two events Ozbolt plans to host on a weekly basis. It will be open throughout the rest of the week for events such as weddings, funerals, and private parties.
Emerald City’s previous space, located at 1645 Rawson Ave. in South Milwaukee, provided a commercial kitchen for its catering and take-out meal services, and to make and sell its line of barbecue sauce, called Big Boss Sauce. However, it had no space for holding events.
“That’s actually why we moved,” Ozbolt said. “It’s the perfect space because we wanted to do everything on-site, while continuing off-site services as well.”
Ozbolt said he is making “heavy-duty cosmetic changes,” such as painting and landscaping to the 13th Street building’s upper level, but he doesn’t plan to renovate the lower level just yet. He said he will also roll out a new menu.
This will be Emerald City’s third location since Ozbolt launched the business nine years ago. He started out in the basement of Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church on Milwaukee’s south side, renting its kitchen and selling hot ham and rolls to church parishioners after mass on Sunday’s. He relocated after two years to the location on the south side of Milwaukee, which has been Emerald City’s home for the past seven years.
In 2016, Ozbolt started working with Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin to distribute coupons for free meals to families in need. He said he will continue this initiative at the new space by hosting a “pay as you may” event each month. He will mass-prepare one meal for which people can pay as little or as much as they can afford.
“I want to do something to give back to community,” he said. “They can pay anywhere from a compliment, up to $100, which will go to covering the cost of making the food, and the rest will go to Feeding America,” he said.
Ozbolt hopes to eventually involve other area chefs and restaurants in his “pay as you may” events.