Vendetta Coffee Bar, an Italian-style cafe that debuted last year in Wauwatosa, is expanding to Milwaukee.
The business will open a second location this summer at 524 S. 2nd St. in the city's Walker's Point neighborhood. The 2,500-square-foot space was previously home to Stand Eat Drink's tapas bar Movida and events venue The Carriage House. Vendetta's target opening is July 1, which would mark one year since the cafe began operating at 7613 W. State St. in the Tosa Village area.
Vendetta serves authentic Italian espresso drinks, drip coffee, Rishi Tea and a small selection of alcoholic beverages, such as Italian imported beer and spritz cocktails made with Prosecco. It also sells pastries, Italian cookies and light fare, including focaccia and paninis.
Since opening, business has been good and the cafe has gained a loyal following of customers with Italian heritage, said founder Tommy Orlando Sr., who co-owns Vendetta with his son Tommy Orlando Jr. and longtime friend Bill Haley. The concept, which Orlando calls his "passion project," was inspired by the Italian coffee culture he grew to love during a short stint living in Italy nearly two decades ago. "It's the original approach - espresso is an Italian word, cappuccino is an Italian word, macchiato is an Italian word. It was an invention of that culture," said Orlando, who, himself, is 100% Italian. "I discovered that here in America, they don't do it the way we do it in Italy."
Upon his return to the U.S., Orlando brought his interest in Italian coffee with him: He purchased a roaster, did some research and learned how to make the perfect cappuccino in his own kitchen.
"That was what I did for 17 years, always with the dream of having a place where I could go and experience what I experienced in Italy," he said.
Now, Vendetta Coffee Bar is that place. The concept has caught on quicker than expected.
"From the very beginning, we knew at some point we'd like to open multiple locations," Orlando said. "We just didn't know it would happen this quickly."
The original plan was to start looking for a second location at the one-year mark, but Dieter Wegner, the owner of the Walker's Point building beat them to the punch. Wegner had stopped at Vendetta for a coffee while in the neighborhood one day earlier this year; he liked what he saw and asked the owners if they would be interested in taking over the South 2nd Street space, Orlando said.
Vendetta's new cafe is 1,000 square feet larger than its Wauwatosa location, which allows it to have more seating and expanded offerings. The business has applied for a liquor license with plans to roll out an Italian cocktail menu on weekend evenings, said Orlando.