New vegan cafe planned for former Celesta space on Milwaukee’s East Side

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Three months after vegan restaurant Celesta closed its doors on Milwaukee’s East Side, a new plant-based concept is getting ready to take its place.

The Lafayette Place, a vegan cafe that will serve breakfast and lunch, is expected to open in late summer or early fall at 1978 N. Farwell Ave.

The quaint 1,122-square-foot storefront had been home to Celesta from spring 2018 to May of this year, when owner and chef Melanie Manuel announced the business would wind down and that she would shift focus to other culinary and creative projects. She also noted another “incredible small business” would soon take over the location, but she didn’t reveal its name.

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The Lafayette Place is a second restaurant location for Amy Plennes and Angie Wierzbinski, who also own and operate The National cafe in Walker’s Point, at 839 W. National Ave. Purchasing the business in 2019, the duo had not planned to launch another restaurant concept so soon, but when the opportunity presented itself, they decided to take the leap.

“When (Melanie) decided to close, she was obviously looking for somebody to take over her lease,” said Plennes. “Word got out in the community — the small restaurant-cafe community that there is here in Milwaukee — and we said we’d be interested.”

They were especially drawn to the bustling East Side neighborhood, which boasts more residential activity than Walker’s Point.

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“There are always so many people walking their dogs and their babies and out for runs  — it’s such a welcoming community that we’re hoping to just fit right in,” said Plennes.

Ultimately, the hope is that expanding their business footprint will boost their own financial recovery coming out of COVID-19 pandemic as well as breathe new life into the East Side dining scene.

The Lafayette’s 100% vegan menu will include breakfast sandwiches, smoothies, coffee, tea, and kombucha. It will be open Thursday through Sunday for dine-in as well as carryout.

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