Vacant former steakhouse on south side sold

Property owner has been at odds with elected officials over future use of building

Jerry and Marie Arenas have been trying to sell their property at 800 W. Layton Ave. The steakhouse has been vacant for eight years. To the west is a trailer park. To the east is a lock and storage facility.

Last updated on May 15th, 2019 at 04:55 pm

The owners of a vacant former steakhouse on Milwaukee’s south side have sold the property, following a long struggle to unload the building.

The steakhouse has been vacant for eight years. To the west is a trailer park. To the east is a lock and storage facility.

Jerry and Marie Arenas sold the property at 800 W. Layton Ave. to Adnan Nazir for $595,000, according to state records. It is assessed by the city of Milwaukee for $619,000.

In February, the couple, who own Palmer’s Steakhouse in Hartland, had an offer from James Griffin, owner of Griffin Ford in Waukesha, to purchase the building for $825,000.

That offer fell through when the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals denied Griffin’s request to turn the property into a motor vehicle outdoor storage facility and body shop.

Jerry Arenas said the sale is bittersweet.

“It cost me (almost) $250,000 (by selling to Nazir instead of Griffin),” he said. “I could have done a lot better and been paid a lot more. But I’m glad to be done.”

Jerry and Marie Arenas ran Palmer’s Steakhouse on Layton Avenue for almost 20 years before selling the business to the restaurant manager and a group of investors who changed the name to J. Roberts Porterhouse.

After an unsuccessful run, the group closed the restaurant and gave the keys back to the Arenas in 2009. They held onto the property until 2012, when they sold it on a land contract to a group who planned to turn it into the Grillside Steakhouse.

When Grillside never opened, Jerry and Marie again got the keys back in March 2016. Each time the keys were returned, so was the annual tax bill of $24,000 per year.

As for the new owner’s plans, Nazir, an internal medicine physician with Greenfield-based Midwest Pulmonary Consultants, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Alderman Terry Witkowski, who represents the district, and was opposed to Griffin rezoning the property for a body shop, said he was unaware Arenas sold the building. Witkowski said he had heard the former steakhouse was going to be razed.

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