Porterhouse Owners Plan to Open Hartland Restaurant

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:36 pm

Jerry and Marie Arenas, who have operated the Porterhouse Steakhouse at 800 W. Layton Ave. in Milwaukee for the past 15 years, are planning to open a new restaurant in Hartland. In December, the husband-and-wife team purchased the former Cobblestone Inn at 122 E. Capitol Drive in downtown Hartland. By mid-spring, they are planning to re-open the restaurant as Palmer’s Restaurant.

The name of the new restaurant – Palmer’s Restaurant – has no connection to the Arenas family. When Jerry and Marie were showing some friends the new building, someone wrote Palmer’s Restaurant in marker on one of the interior walls.

"No one’s fessing up to it," Jerry said.

The menu for Palmer’s Restaurant is still being worked out, Jerry said, but it will have a similar menu and feel to Porterhouse Steakhouse, focusing on steaks, chops, chicken and seafood.

Waukesha County, and particularly Hartland, is an attractive area to open a restaurant because of its rapid growth in recent years, Jerry said. Several high-end residential developments have been built in the area.

"We live in Oconomowoc and know that this area needs more restaurants," Jerry said. "This area is booming."

Many people from downtown Hartland businesses have already started knocking on the restaurant’s door, asking when they are going to be open, Marie said.

"This town is very nice – they all want to help," she said. "They’re welcoming us with open arms."

Even though they bought the 1,600-square-foot building in December, the couple wasn’t able to get inside the building for a serious look until early January, because of a busy holiday season at the Porterhouse. The Arenas’ are a hands-on restaurant family – Jerry routinely cooks in the kitchen at Porterhouse, and Marie often runs the floor, besides balancing the books.

"It wasn’t until Jan. 5 or 6 (that) we got in here and got our feet wet," Jerry said. "We had to figure out what to do."

The 1,300-square-foot building, constructed in 1923, needs some major interior renovations. The building is getting a new bar and flooring. Paint needs to be removed on several inside stone columns, and the bathrooms have been stripped bare of wall coverings.

The Arenas’ bought the restaurant from foreclosure. Most recently, it had been operated as Beraducci’s, an Italian restaurant, for about three years. Bereducci’s closed in August.

Because a bank had owned the property, the building’s power had been shut off, and the boilers in place had frozen during the cold early winter months. The couple has already invested almost $40,000 in two new boilers for the restaurant.

"It’s almost like we’re gutting the place to get it back to where it needs to be," Jerry said.

The couple is currently selecting contractors to renovate the building’s interior and is working on design schemes for the dining room. Marie wants the space to have a traditional steak house feel to it, to be comfortable but not stuffy or pretentious.

A small deck on the side of the restaurant overlooks the Bark River. They hope to eventually expand the deck.

A former private dining area on the second floor of the Hartland restaurant will be turned into an apartment for the family to use when they’ve worked late nights. The Arenas’ have a similar arrangement at Porterhouse. Having a place to sleep after late nights is especially helpful for restaurant owners, Marie said.

"You just have to have a handle on your business," she said.

Sign up for BizTimes Daily Alerts

Stay up-to-date on the people, companies and issues that impact business in Milwaukee and Southeast Wisconsin

No posts to display