Who’s on Third owner buys Giovanni’s building on Old World Third

Oak Barrel Public House planned for site

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The Giovanni’s restaurant building on Old World Third Street in downtown Milwaukee has been sold to the owner of Who’s on Third, who plans to convert it to a restaurant and tavern called Oak Barrel Public House.

Robert Wiltgen purchased the property at 1033 N. Old World Third St. from 1033 Old World 3rd LLC for $1.85 million, according to state records.

In September, Wiltgen, owner of Who’s on Third, 1007 N. Old World Third St., submitted a license application for Oak Barrel Public House.

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Wiltgen is working with Milwaukee-based Flux Design to renovate the building for the new restaurant.

Giovanni’s occupied the first floor and the Comedy Cafe was on the second level. Wilgen said he is renovating the entire space. Oak Barrel Public House will serve pizza, gourmet burgers, sandwiches and simple entrees including mac and cheese and spaghetti and meatballs.

Sal Safina, who operated Giovanni’s Italian restaurant at the Old World Third location since October 2015, could not immediately be reached for comment. In September, he said he was looking for another location for his restaurant.

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This is Wiltgen’s second project on Old World Third Street in the last month, and will be his third business on the street.

In October, he acquired Matador Taco & Tequila in the former Lucille’s Piano Bar space at 1110 N. Old World Third St. Wiltgen changed re-branded and reopened the restaurant and bar as Cantina on Oct. 20.

He realizes his good timing with the new businesses on Old World Third, and the new Milwaukee Bucks arena that will open next year.

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“I think the next 20 to 30 years will be extremely vibrant on the street,” Wiltgen said. “When I first got to Milwaukee in 2003, there wasn’t much interest in the Bucks, but now people love the team and will love to be part of that area.”

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