Milwaukee-based developer Steve Stewart and restaurateur Jay Supple, chief executive officer of Oshkosh-based Supple Restaurant Group, plan to introduce America to the Montreal Bread Co. restaurant chain.
They plan to open the first Montreal Bread Co. location in the United States in the River Renaissance development, a seven-story, 82-unit condominium building under construction southeast of Water and Erie streets in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward. Stewart, president of New Vision Development Co., is a partner in the River Renaissance project, which will be complete in November.
During the next 10 years, Stewart and Supple plan to open and sell franchises for an additional 50 to 100 Montreal Bread locations across the United States. They will be master franchisors for Montreal Bread in their territory, which so far includes Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota. That means they will be able to open or sell franchises for Montreal Bread locations in those states. In addition, Stewart and Supple are negotiating with Montreal Bread to add more states to their territory.
“We want to be the master franchisor for the entire U.S.,” Stewart said.
Montreal Bread Co. is a chain of European style cafes. Its menu includes sandwiches, soup, salads, desserts, pizza, cheese platters, fruit platters, vegetable platters and retail bread and wine.
“It’s an upscale café,” Supple said. “It’s another level above Panera Bread and Atlanta Bread Co. It’s kind of a meet-and-greet place, kind of like Starbucks, but with a much bigger menu. It’s a concept we feel we can take and repeat it throughout the country. That’s what is appealing to us.”
Stewart and Supple plan to open six to eight Montreal Bread locations in the Milwaukee area and about 15 total Wisconsin locations during the next 10 years. The concept is flexible and can fit in a 500- to 1,500-square-foot space.
“We’re going to have a lot of other Montreal Bread locations throughout Milwaukee, but the locations will be very urban,” Stewart said. The concept will work in suburban locations, but only in high-density communities such as Whitefish Bay in high-traffic areas, Stewart and Supple said. They also plan to do catering and deliveries, so they will be looking for locations near a large number of offices.
Rob Weich, chief operating officer of Mequon-based Weich Group Inc., and Alec Karter, a commercial real estate broker with Pewaukee-based Judson & Associates, will help Stewart and Supple find locations and franchisees for Montreal Bread restaurants.
“They’ve got some good contacts,” Stewart said.
The River Renaissance Montreal Bread location will occupy about 2,800 square feet of space, which will include a 1,500-square-foot training area for franchisees. It will be located on the first floor of the building right at the corner of Water and Erie. The restaurant will also have sidewalk seating for about 40.
“This is going to be kind of our model,” Supple said.
Supple also plans to open a Fratellos restaurant in an 8,610-square-foot space in River Renaissance, along the Milwaukee River. It will be the fifth location for Fratellos, which has two locations in Appleton, one in Ashwaubenon and one in Oshkosh. Fratellos serves a wide variety of American dishes, including seafood, steaks, sandwiches and pizza.
“We try to have something for everybody who comes through the door,” Supple said. Most of the Fratellos locations are located on a waterfront, and the River Renaissance location will feature seating for 100 outside along Milwaukee’s Riverwalk. “The places are beautiful, but you have a menu that is very price sensitive,” Supple said.
Supple’s company also owns Wave Bar and Ballroom in Appleton, and he is a franchisee for Golden Corral restaurants in Plover and Oshkosh, a Melting Pot restaurant in Appleton and a Hilton Garden Inn hotel in Oshkosh.
“We’re a little bit unique in that we have independent concepts and franchise concepts,” Supple said.
The company has been looking to expand into the Milwaukee area, he said. Some in the Milwaukee area are already familiar with Fratellos from taking trips north for Green Bay Packer games or vacations.
“This is big for us,” Supple said. “It’s a larger market. We’ve been looking down here for about three years. We love the Third Ward.”