Reflecting on 30 years of The Bartolotta Restaurants

Thought Leadership: Anniversaries

The Bartolotta Restaurants team celebrating the Bucks Championship in 2021.
The Bartolotta Restaurants team celebrating the Bucks Championship in 2021.

On the 30th anniversary of The Bartolotta Restaurants, the word that comes to mind is gratitude – gratitude toward the past and present employees and the dining community that have supported our family business for so long.

The values that formed The Bartolotta Restaurants came from the memories Joe, Maria, Felicia, and I shared as children, gathered around our parent’s table. When Joe and I founded Ristorante Bartolotta in 1993, it was a tribute to our Italian heritage and traditions. It was inspired by those family experiences at our dining room table. 

Today we refer to this as Bartolotta hospitality and we recreate “The Bartolotta Table” for our guests. Joe found the perfect location on State Street, and our dear friend Joe DeRosa, an amazing businessman and restaurateur, provided us with the backing and support we needed to start our journey. We truly could not have done it without him, and we would not be here today without him. 

We have worked hard to earn the support and trust of the people of Milwaukee over the past 30 years. We are proud to have played a small part in nurturing new generations of chefs and leaders, to give back through our Care-a-lotta initiative, and to be active participants in our community. 

As our company grew, we never strayed from “The Bartolotta Table” or our commitment to give back and show our thanks to this community. Our brand of hospitality was formed by those early experiences around the kitchen table, and Joe and I never forgot that, because we owe our success to the people of Milwaukee and those who travel here. 

Losing Joe in 2019 was a devastating loss. Not only had I lost a brother and business partner, but Milwaukee had also lost a pillar of its community. Joe loved this city, its people, and its culture. For me, losing Joe, taking sole ownership of our company, and navigating through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic have been the greatest trials of my life. 

I don’t know if I’ve taken the time and given myself a moment to grieve the loss of Joe. Fortunately, throughout these tumultuous past few years, the support of family, friends, and our great community has only reinforced that we need to keep moving forward and grow upon what we started more than 30 years ago.

As we look ahead to what comes next, we’ll continue to grow our Bartolotta Restaurants family and introduce new concepts in Milwaukee and beyond. We’ve already begun with the announcement of The Commodore – A Bartolotta Restaurant, a new restaurant and catering venue we’re opening this year on Nagawicka Lake. Every expansion is an opportunity to recreate those memories of “The Bartolotta Table” and give something back.

I’ve long believed that restaurants don’t get tired, owners do. I’m just getting started. I believe that there is so much more that I can do to show my gratitude to this community that has given us so much. Thank you, Milwaukee.

The Bartolotta Restaurants
520 West McKinley Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53212