Last updated on May 15th, 2019 at 04:50 pm
An affiliate of Milwaukee-based Mo’s Restaurants has been acquiring properties on the southwest corner of Mayfair and Bluemound roads in Wauwatosa, across the street from its Mo’s Irish Pub restaurant, since 2016.
The first site purchased was the former Edwardo’s Pizza building at 10845 W. Bluemound Road in July 2016. Mo’s owner Johnny Vassallo purchased the 2-acre site with former Milwaukee Bucks player and current Fox Sports Wisconsin broadcaster Steve Novak and former Milwaukee Waver owner Jim Lindenberg for $2 million.
Edwardo’s closed in March 2014.
Vassallo has since purchased a three-story office building at 10909 W. Bluemound Road and three houses on West Mount Vernon Avenue.
Vassallo also owns the two parking lots just west of Mo’s Irish Pub.
When reached at his home in Houston Tuesday, Vassallo said he doesn’t have any immediate plans for the properties.
“I’ve done pretty well for myself and have been able to buy the land in Tosa,” he said. “It has been a quite simple, low risk and a moderate return-on-investment land play. You can’t go wrong with buying dirt.”
The affiliate of Mo’s Restaurants now owns three commercial buildings and three homes on the block bounded by Bluemound Road, Mayfair Road (Highway 100), West Mount Vernon Avenue and North 111th Street.
Vassallo said given enough time, he might own the entire block, but right now, there are a few homeowners who do not want to sell, and businesses that still own their buildings, including Tri City National Bank, at 10859 W. Bluemound Road.
“Milwaukee is booming and I’m not in any hurry,” Vassallo said. “Generally, when someone wants to sell, I pay my fair share and buy. And I’m paying my fair share of Wauwatosa property taxes right now.”
After the Edwardo’s purchase, through separate LLCs, all registered to Mo’s Restaurants chief operating officer Debra Stephenson, the other transactions occurred.
Three of the five houses located on West Mount Vernon Avenue, on the same block as the Edwardo’s parcel were purchased between 2016 and 2018, according to state records.
The homes are located at 10876, 10872 and 10864 W. Mount Vernon Ave.
A fourth homeowner on the block, who did not want to give her name, said she was approached by Vassallo to sell, but she was not interested.
Dentists on Bluemound, 10863 W. Bluemound Road, moved in July to 11407 W. Bluemound Road after their building was also purchased by an affiliate of Vassallo, according to an employee.
Suburpia, 10853 W. Bluemound Road, has also moved to 11108 W. Bluemound Road. They were leasing space in the building owned by Vassallo and their lease expired, according to an employee.
Paulette Enders, development director for the city, said she has not heard from Vassallo in “quite some time,” and he has not submitted any plans to the city.
Vassallo founded Mo’s Restaurants in 1999, with the opening of Mo’s…A Place for Steaks in downtown Milwaukee. He also currently owns Mo’s Irish Pub in downtown Milwaukee and Wauwatosa, and Houston, College Station, Cypress and Katy, Texas.