Tracking restaurant openings through a pandemic is an easy way to discern the trend: Debuts rarely occur when they're intended. Construction, staffing, food and supplies can all be impediments.
But here are some Milwaukee-area restaurants expected to open their doors in 2023. Tooth Plate
Romero’s Restaurant and Bar, a family-run Mexican restaurant, is expected to open sometime around Jan. 20 at 4171 S. 76th St., the former site of Don Cangrejo Cantina and Restaurant.
Romero’s Taco Truck, which has three taco trucks serving West Allis, Wauwatosa and New Berlin, has been using the Don Cangrejo location as its base for nearly two years, said Alex Romero, who runs the business with brother Carmelo Romero.
Sully's Sandwiches, the new sibling to popular west side spot Miss Molly's Cafe and Pastry Shop, is expected to debut around the first week in February with roasted meats and cauliflower for sandwiches, a la carte sides, and lighthearted, family-friendly desserts.
The sandwich shop will be at 9211 W. Center St., which previously was an office; Miss Molly's is at 9201.
"We just want it to be a fun, upbeat place to be and have a casual dinner or lunch," owner Molly Sullivan said after hatching plans for the restaurant, where customers can have beer or wine with their meal. Ordering will be by kiosk.
More:New Milwaukee area restaurants that opened in 2022
More:8 longtime Milwaukee restaurants that closed in 2022, including Polonez, Rock Bottom, Milwaukee Ale House
Red Maple bar and restaurant is taking root at 100 W. Maple St., the former home of Ollie's bar: The bar portion is expected to open by February, and the restaurant will follow in summer.
The new bar and restaurant will bring Japanese beer, cocktails and meals with a modern twist. Owners are Robin Koutecky, who also owns Clementine's Tavern in Bay View, and service industry veteran Janet Boettner.
Boettner, whose mother is Japanese, said the restaurant will showcase "all the fun things from Japan."
Maggio's announced plans to open in early February in the former Tosa Bowl and Bun building.
Owner Jeremy Maggio started catering out of a trailer with a wood-fired oven in 2015, when he and his wife had full-time jobs. Now, he plans to open Maggio’s Wood Fired Pizza with co-owner Andy Fries, who has worked in the restaurant industry for more than 15 years.
The menu will include Maggio’s recipes for pizza, as well as salads, sandwiches, appetizers, desserts, espresso drinks, wine and beer, he said.
Pedro Tejada, owner of Pedro's South American Food, a popular food truck based in Riverwest, soon will open La Cocina del Sur Empanada Bar in the former Riverwest Filling Station, 701 E. Keefe Ave.
Tejada, a native of Ecuador, hopes to have the grand opening on Feb. 1, after a few soft openings in late January.
The menu will feature favorites from the food truck, including empanadas, Colombian-style arepas, tamales and other South American dishes.
Safina’s, by the family that operated the Italian restaurant Giovanni's on the lower east side and west of the river downtown for many years, could open as soon as late January or early February in downtown's East Town neighborhood.
That's the most hopeful scenario. The owners had expected to open in the fall, but ever-present supply chain issues mean the furniture for the restaurant at 783-785 N. Jefferson St. has yet to be delivered.
The three Safina brothers, Giuseppe (Joe), David and Sal, will operate it with their father, Giovanni Safina, who will pound and cut veal as he did at the previous restaurants.
Besides familiar family recipes, expect new dishes inspired by trips to visit family in Sicily.
A fruit and potato bar? Yes, a fruit and potato bar — no alcohol — is expected to open in February.
Kristine Gomez-Delatorre, an Alverno College grad, plans to open the hangout spot she always wanted when she was in school. It will be at 3956 S. Howell Ave., which previously was Pat's Niche Pub and Grub.
Precious Vibes will serve loaded baked potatoes, loaded fries and seasoned tornado potatoes, the fried, spiral-cut potato, as well as juices, smoothies and fresh fruit salads. It likely will add more menu items later, perhaps including mocktails, the owner said.
Hot Dish Pantry could open as soon as February in the former Iron Grate BBQ building, at 4125 S. Howell Ave.
The maker of modern Midwestern comfort foods closed its counter in 3rd Street Market Hall in preparation for the move. Like Iron Grate, Hot Dish Pantry would have counter service.
Laura Maigatter and Nathan Heck, the owners, plan to start with lunch and dinner Thursday to Sunday and add some favorite Midwestern blended cocktails, like brandy slush, and other alcoholic beverages in the following months.
The Italian-themed Il Cervo in downtown's Deer District is expected to open in spring at the top of the Trade Hotel, offering diners downtown views from indoors and out.
The restaurant was announced in September, when a 4,300-pound pizza oven was lifted nine stories to the site.
The menu at Il Cervo (pronounced eel CHAIR-vo, meaning the deer in Italian) will include sourdough pizzas, grilled fish, dry-aged steaks served Florentine style, fresh cheeses made daily at the restaurant, and handmade pasta.
The restaurant and the Marriott Autograph Collection hotel are being built across Juneau Avenue from Fiserv Forum. NCG Hospitality and Food Fight Restaurant Group of Madison are opening the restaurant; NCG will operate the hotel, too.
Il Cervo is one of two restaurants planned for the hotel; details on the other, a two-level restaurant and lounge, are still to come.
It's hardly new — Red Circle Inn in Nashotah purportedly is the oldest restaurant in the state, dating to 1847 — but it's reopening in spring with a new owner: Geronimo Hospitality Group, which operates I.d. in Delafield, among other restaurants.
Using historical photos as a guide, Geronimo said it's thoroughly restoring and updating the structure, at N44 W33013 Watertown Plank Road.
That includes exposing a massive fireplace that was behind drywall on the building's west side and reinstalling wooden beams at the ceiling.
Historical menus will provide inspiration for Red Circle Inn's new menu, and Geronimo is bringing back a familiar name as chef: Jonna Froelich, who opened I.d. for Geronimo and had been chef at that restaurant's previous incarnation, Andrew's. Most recently, she was the chef at a Geronimo restaurant in Beloit, Velvet Buffalo Modern Italian.
Avlí, a restaurant group specializing in regional Greek cuisine, is to open its first restaurant outside Chicago in the spring, in the vacant View MKE building in Brewers Hill.
The restaurant, as yet unnamed, will serve modern Greek cuisine, its founding partner has said. Expect grilled dishes, as well as fish and vegetable dishes alongside meat.
The bar will pour Greek wine and beer, and cocktails will incorporate lesser-known Greek spirits and liqueurs.
The two-story Brewers Hill restaurant site, 1818 N. Hubbard St., is known for its view of the downtown skyline and its upper and lower patios. It's being redecorated to reflect its Mediterranean theme.
Avlí has five restaurants in Chicago, one of which the Chicago Tribune called "an important addition to the River North dining scene" and another that Michelin named a Bib Gourmand restaurant in 2019 and 2021.
Wolf on Broadway now is due in late spring or early summer at the Kinn Guesthouse downtown, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner with a menu of what the owners have described as comforting and approachable food with a twist.
The Wolf on Broadway, by Wolfgang Schaefer and Whitney McAllister, will anchor the ground floor of the 32-room boutique-style Kinn at 600 N. Broadway.
It will be their second restaurant; they also operate Uncle Wolfie's Breakfast Tavern in the Brewers Hill neighborhood. Likewise, the hotel is a second location for Kinn; the first Kinn boutique hotel is in Bay View, where the Italian-American restaurant Sorella is on the first floor.
Wolf on Broadway originally was to open in summer 2022, with Milwaukee restaurant veteran Kristen Schwab as chef. In the interim, the restaurant has been previewing dishes at Uncle Wolfie's.
A two-story building has sprouted at the site of the former Colony Camera Shop, 8807 W. North Ave., Wauwatosa, but work isn't yet finished.
When it opens, Fiddlehead's eighth location in southeast Wisconsin will have a rooftop deck and more outdoor seating.
Fiddleheads plans to serve coffee, nonalcoholic beverages, baked goods and breakfast and lunch sandwiches.
Jackson Grill, the south side steakhouse with a supper club vibe, is expected to reopen by early spring under new ownership.
Milwaukee restaurateur Andrew Radjenovich, who opened Saloon on Calhoun in Brookfield and helps run 4th Base Restaurant in West Milwaukee, has said he expects to change little at Jackson Grill, 3736 W. Mitchell St.
"The Jackson Grill, that place was amazing," Radjenovich said. "I was shocked when it closed."
Ninja Japanese Steakhouse, operated by Li Chai Chen, is expected to open at 770-772 N. Milwaukee St. within three months, according to an employee.
It would serve hibachi, sushi and other Japanese menu items. The owner expanded his plans for the long vacant building (which last housed Catch 22 bar in 2015) to include second-floor seating plus a karaoke bar in the basement.
Chen also operates Ninja Japanese Steakhouse locations at N88 W15575 Main St., Menomonee Falls, and 944 Paradise Drive, West Bend.
Marcia Joy, a native of Brazil who makes Brazilian chocolates under the Sweet Joy label, will open a cafe on Brady Street that brings a piece of her native country to the lower east side.
Sweet Joy Brazilian Café is expected to have its grand opening in April at 1208 E. Brady St., the former Brewed Cafe site. The cafe will open quietly sometime before then.
Besides the Brazilian chocolate truffle-like confections called brigadeiros, Sweet Joy cafe will have brownies and sandwich cookies, and coffee and espresso drinks.
Customers will find a bit of Brazil in finger foods such as Brazilian cheese bread. The bread is naturally gluten free and can be eaten on its own, but Joy expects also to use it for Brazilian-style steak and chicken sandwiches. The cafe also will have acai bowls and smoothies.
Steny's, which has been in Milwaukee's Walker's Point neighborhood since 1985, plans to open a second location on a 10-acre Pewaukee property by summer. The former home of Boomers Sports Pub & Grill has three volleyball courts, and new co-owner Ryan Steny said he wants to continue the leagues that Boomers had.
Other sports will be considered at the site, at N29 W24483 Watertown Road, as will shuttles to Brewers and Bucks games, Steny said.
In addition to maintaining the sports bar atmosphere, the owners hope to offer a drive-thru fish fry, he said.
Taqueria El Toro, which has a restaurant on Mitchell Street and a stand in West Allis in addition to three food trucks, now plans to open a restaurant in Walker's Point.
Owners Toribio Perez Martinez and Delfina Ignacio Josefa hope to open the restaurant at 625-631 W. National Ave.in July.
Tacos, tortas and tostadas are on the menu, along with the Oaxacan-style tlayuda, an enormous tortilla loaded with chopped meat, refried beans, avocado, tomato, cabbage and cheese, then crisped and folded.
El Toro's other locations include a full-service restaurant at 551 W. Historic Mitchell St. and a walk-up stand at 8322 W. Lincoln Ave. in West Allis.
A new Bartolotta restaurant is planned on Lake Nagawicka in September. The Milwaukee-based restaurant group is working with David Herro and Jay Franke of HF Hospitality Group on The Commodore, at 1807 Nagawicka Road, Delafield, the site of the former Seven Seas restaurant.
Steam Boiler The building dates to 1905, when it opened as Hasslinger's Pleasant View Hotel & Resort. Paul Bartolotta, the restaurant group's owner, said the renovations will honor historical detail but present a 1920s yacht club-style main dining room on the ground floor and a larger gathering space on the upper level.