Mequon Public Market announces new tenants in wake of closures due to COVID-19

Pizza Man, Aloha Poke to open

Last updated on August 27th, 2020 at 04:14 pm

Not long after losing three of its restaurant tenants to the coronavirus pandemic, Mequon Public Market is again at full capacity.

Owner Shaffer Development announced Thursday that Chicago-based Aloha Poke Co. and Milwaukee-based Pizza Man will soon join the food hall, replacing Bavette La Boucherie and Beans and Barley.

Those restaurants, along with Bowls, closed their secondary locations earlier this summer to focus on their full-service restaurants near downtown Milwaukee, said Cindy Shaffer, owner of Shaffer Development.

The former Bowls space is now home to Falafel Guys, which moved in earlier this month, downsizing from its stand-alone Thiensville location. The business also operates a food truck.

Shaffer Development received more than 20 inquiries for the available tenant space, which may seem surprising given the current economic climate and restaurant industry downturn, but Shaffer sees the appeal.

“Being in a public market setting makes it more affordable than owning a large sit-down restaurant,” she said, referencing Falafel Guys’ recent move. “They had a whole restaurant and now they’re paying for a smaller space per square foot, but yet they have shared access to the remainder (of the space).”

Shaffer said some vendors who remained in operation during the COVID-19 shutdown, which included Cafe Corazon, Santorini Grill and Screaming Tuna, have seen record sales thanks to steady demand for pick-up and delivery service. For that reason, she is optimistic about the market’s viability going forward.

“I think it speaks, too, to the Mequon area,” she said “There’s been pent up demand for good food in Mequon that we haven’t had.”

Dine-in business at the market ebbs and flows depending on the day and time, Shaffer said, but the market has driven foot traffic with plenty of outdoor seating space, socially distant tables inside on the mezzanine level, as well as an outdoor makers market event on Saturday mornings.

Mequon Public Market will house Aloha Poke’s third Milwaukee-area location. The business opened its first area restaurant in 2018 in the Historic Third Ward, and its second earlier this week in the Wauwatosa Village district.

Meanwhile, it will be the fourth location for longtime local staple Pizza Man, which currently has restaurants in Milwaukee, Oak Creek and Wauwatosa.

The businesses join Mequon Public Market’s current tenant lineup, which includes Anodyne Coffee, Caf√© Corazon, Happy Dough Lucky Donuts, La Terre floral and gift shop, Screaming Tuna’s Little Tuna, Purple Door Ice Cream, Santorini Grill and Falafel Guys.

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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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