Change is afoot at Crossroads Collective as the East Side food hall enters its second year.
The concept opened in December last year at the former Rosati’s Pizza in the former Oriental Drugs building, located at 2238 N. Farwell Ave. Overall, year one was a success, said Tim Gokhman, director at Milwaukee-based developer New Land Enterprises.
A new taco concept, called Juana Taco Co., recently signed a lease as Crossroad's newest vendor. It's owned by Greg Kieckbusch and Frank Sandino-Badillo of Van Burens Sports Bar and Grill LLC, according to a license application recently filed with the city. The pair also own Mangos Cafe, located at 1682 N. Van Buren St.
"We've been talking to them for months and months and super excited to have them join Crossroads Collective," said Gokhman.
Juana Taco Co. will open Dec. 15, replacing Beerline Cafe, which will close Dec. 1, Gokhman said.
Beerline opened its second location last year as one of the food hall's original tenants. It serves crepes, smoothies and other vegetarian eats. Its flagship restaurant is located at 2076 N. Commerce St.
"Unfortunately, it just wasn't working out for them," Gokhman said about Beerline's departure. Owner Michael Allen was not immediately available for comment.
Another one of Crossroad's original tenants, Falafel Guys, will also not renew its lease for next year.
"We just had a really hard time staffing it," said co-owner Ron Stroli. "I thought it would be easy with so many college kids on the East Side, but we couldn't find anybody."
Ron said he has not experienced that same level of difficulty staffing Falafel Guys' Thiensville location or its food truck, both of which will remain open.
A new tenant has not yet been secured for the Falafel Guys space, but "we've got a couple of ideas that we're pursuing," said Gokhman.
Gokhman isn't concerned about recent turnover at the food hall, especially during its first year, when small restaurants are statistically up against a 60% failure rate, he said.
"We are below that, I'm very happy with that," he said. "Some turnover is going to be natural."
Year one winds down with the recent addition of Small Pie, small tweaks such as new exterior signage, as well as a new hire: Emily Chirillo as director of operations.
Chirillo, who was previously general manager at Balzac Wine Bar on Brady Street, will focus on marketing and financial analysis efforts, said Gokhman. She will also play a role in the launch of New Land's second food hall Flour & Feed, which is slated for a June 2020 opening at the Kinetik Apartments in Bay View.
Other things on tap for year two at Crossroads Collective could include expanded hours at The Pharmacy bar and weekend brunch, Gokhman said, in addition to more partnerships and programming.
"I think the biggest things is just honing in what works well in the food hall and what doesn't and making sure that the partnerships that we forge are in line with that," said Gokhman.