Mistral, an upscale Mediterranean restaurant, is slated to open at the Avalon Theater in Milwaukee's Bay View neighborhood by December and the Avalon will revamp its current menu to offer a new selection of house-made dishes, as the theater's two to three-month-long kitchen renovation reaches completion.
Located at2473 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.,the new restaurant will stand in place of the theater's bar--currently serving casual eats, snacks, and beverages. With seating for 35 people, Mistral won't look too much different from the current bar, aside from some new seating and decorations.
It's seasonal menu will offer six of both small plates and main dishes, and some desserts--all inspired by north African, Middle Eastern, Italian and French cuisines. Wine, beer and seasonal cocktails will also be available.
"The focus on the style of food will be different from surrounding restaurants in the area," Avalon's chef, Joe Schreiter said. "The focus is midwestern-American food but we'll bring in condiments and dishes from the North African and other Mediterranean regions, which will make the flavors different from what is offered in Bay View right now."
Schreiter, also the chef at Sheridan's restaurant at the Sheridan House hotel in Cudahy, is heading the creation of Mistral's menu and the upgrade of the theater's current menu, which currently offers pre-made items.
"As Bay View is growing as rapidly as it is, with apartment buildings and more residents coming in, I feel that there is room for growth in the restaurant scene here and definitely room for the type of restaurant that are putting together," owner, Lee Barczak said.
The Avalon building was originally opened as a theater in 1929 and in 2014, Barczak bought the building, renovated the theater space and opened the Avalon-- making it the third theater operated by his Milwaukee-based company, Neighborhood Theater Group. Barczak also owns Sheridan's and the Sheridan House, and Morgan Kenwood Advisors, a Greendale-based financial planning firm.
By mid-October, most items on the theater's menu will be made in-house or sourced locally. Schreiter said the biggest changes are the hand-tossed pizzas with house-made dough and sauce, baked in the kitchen's newly installed oven. It is gas-fired but lined with stone and heated with infrared heat, similar to an authentic Italian wood burning pizza oven.
For the last couple of months, the Avalon renovated its kitchen, installing the pizza oven with its hood and chimney, a sautée station and a new griller and frier to prepare for the theater's new menu and for Mistral's opening. The theater still served food to customers during the renovation process.
Other items on the new menu will include freshly-ground burgers, house-made french fries and a cuban sandwich.
Schreiter said the plans to open Mistral at the theater-- along with customers' demand for fresh, local ingredients-- prompted the menu's changes.
"The main impetuous for the menu was the idea to put the restaurant into the building," he said. "If we have the ability to cook fresh food for the new restaurant, why can't we do that for the whole place?"
When Mistral opens, the two selections of food will remain separate entities, but both will be prepared in the theater's upgraded kitchen. Mistral's food will have a higher price point and the restaurant will have a fine dining, "wine-forward" atmosphere, Schreiter said.
Replacing the Avalon's bar area with the restaurant will prevent customers from sitting at a bar and ordering drinks-- a popular service among current customers --but Schreiter said, in the future, the theater is looking to avail some form of bar service to customers again.
Barczak owns and recently renovated the 18 apartment units, 15 of which he said are currently rented, located on the south side of the theater's building. Barczak also plans to open a wine bar this winter in or near the space.