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In Dining

After a decade, Comet Cafe, 1947 N. Farwell Ave., grows into its full potential.

Comet catapults from coffee shop to bar/restaurant


Comet Cafe owners Scott Johnson and Leslie Montemurro decided to upgrade from a corner coffee shop to full-service bar and restaurant for a constellation of reasons.

"We are 10 years older, and we want to do things that appeal not only to us and our friends, but to a broader spectrum of customers," says Johnson.

The business partners also had the opportunity to buy their building and expand into the old Eddy's Chinese Restaurant space, as well as the chance to work with Valerie and Adam Lucks, a sister and brother team from Chicago.

"Adam is amazing in the kitchen. He likes to make everything from scratch, have a limited menu with lots of daily specials and use seasonal ingredients," says Johnson. "That really appealed to us."

The new Comet, scheduled to open on June 3, will feature a full-service bar and restaurant serving "healthy comfort food" for breakfast, lunch and dinner for under $10 a plate.

The "twisted rustic" décor will feature lots of wood and wood-grained Formica laminates, with Naugahyde booths and chrome stools nodding to '50s modern design. Johnson promises the new joint will not only have a new look and menu, but a new smell as well.

"(The old) Comet was 10 years old, covered in a patina of cigarette smoke and cheesy tomato sandwiches. It stunk in there," he says.

Smoking won't be allowed in the café, only on the bar side, and new air cleaning systems will prevent, what Johnson describes as "that Comet smell" -- a cigarette-and-sandwich funk that clung to patrons long after they left.

Johnson says the Comet staff will largely stay the same, with some new hires.

Comet's metamorphosis is similar to Café Lulu/Bar Lulu in Bay View. Owners Cameryne Roberts and Sarah Jonas opened their business and years later got the opportunity to buy the building and expand, much like Johnson and Montemurro did with Comet and their "first born" project, the Fuel Cafe in Riverwest.

"We finally just got the chance to buy the buildings we've been renting for the last decade, so the plans were in our heads for years, we were just waiting for the opportunity," says Johnson, who also co-owns Palomino, Hi-Hat and the Hi-Hat Garage.

After the Comet project is completed, Montemurro and Johnson plan to hotsink their energy into Fuel, and create a similar bar and restaurant serving "regular American-style comfort food" and weekend breakfast.

"Obviously this is something more complicated and difficult, but at the end of the day, we hope, more satisfying somehow," says Johnson.

Talkbacks

OMCreader | April 30, 2006 at 6:30 p.m. (report)

Disgruntled said: This place has seriously gone downhill. I used to love it, but the last three times I have gone the food quality has been disappointing. I won't be back.

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OMCreader | Sept. 18, 2005 at 5:54 p.m. (report)

Benson said: Went there a couple of weeks ago for sunday brunch, excellent, friendly funny bartenders and the whole nine. Highly recommend it, a lot of sunday brunches are stuffy and pretentious, Comet is not. I will definitely take out-of-towners here for hangover brunch again and again. Get the beer-mosa, you'll be surprised at how great a ghetto brass monkey tastes.

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OMCreader | June 23, 2005 at 1:05 p.m. (report)

Ms. Elaineous said: Hey, does anyone know if the Comet will still be serving all the sandwiches they used to?? I need my Buttafuocco (or however you spell it) let me know!!! PLEEEEEASE

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