Like many in Milwaukee, I've rued the fact that so much of Downtown turns its back on the street. There are more than a few of us who believe that The Shops of Grand Avenue would live a more vibrant existence if it did a better job of embracing the street.
The new Colectivo cafe that officially opened today at 223 E. St. Paul Ave., across from the Milwaukee Public Market in the Third Ward, throws its arms around the sidewalk, and by extension, the market across the street.
That's a big part of the allure, co-owner Lincoln Fowler told me this morning as we stood on the sidewalk and had a clear view into the entire cafe.
"We wanted to connect to the market," he said, gesturing across the way.
To do that, Colectivo used an open concept that blurs the line between exterior and interior and built some bar-and-stool seating outside, too. In order to make it work in terms of permitting, the cafe's goods had to go behind glass and the food prep area in the back is separated by a wall.
But none of that will really have any effect for the customer, who can sit "inside" on a rainy day and watch the drops fall while enjoying a coffee. On a beautiful day, this place will be packed.
The grab and go sandwiches, baked goods from Colectivo's newly rebranded Troubadour Bakery and the rest make it a perfect complement to the market's food court-style lunch concept.
Because he opened it -- in the space long occupied by Third Ward Caffe (no, the Orvieto mural does not appear to survive) -- it's clear that Fowler and his partners aren't concerned that there's a Starbucks around the corner, a Cedarburg coffee in the market and Bella Caffe, a Stone Creek and Sven's within an easy stroll.
"We have just always tried to focus on what we do best," Fowler said.
But, there's also a Colectivo a mere four blocks south in Walker's Point, too...
"We expect there will be some cannibalizing but we'll just deal with it," Fowler said with a smile, adding that his partner Paul Miller has long lobbied for a Third Ward location.
"We really wanted to be in this location."
Now, if we could just convince the pols not to rebuild that stretch of I-794 that's been torn down...
People like what they like, I don't see what's wrong with having options. Really, if you love Starbucks it's not like you are not going to still go there regardless of Colectivo being right down the street.
It's still local coffee and there is a reason they are doing so well; the coffee rocks!
I agree....I'll only frequent the small, independent neighborhood coffee/bakery shops...like Cranky Al's in Wauwatosa.
Why would Lincoln be concerned with being so close to the Cedarburg coffee in the Public Market, the Bella's, or Stone Creek, or Svens? He wasn't concerned about opening in BV across from Stone Creek, or in Tosa across from Le Tart. Cannibalize from his own stores? It's probably easily offset by the existing shops he's moving in on.
I'm all for capitalism and seeing a local company do well, and I'm ready to be knocked for being a communist here, but something doesn't feel right. I suppose I should be happy that they were successful enough to get their $million buyout from MARS, but using that money to open up so close doesn't feel very much like the local Alterra of old.
Think I'll stick with the little guys who appreciate the business.
3 comments about this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Bobby Tanzilo
Published Sept. 18, 2014
Perhaps no Milwaukee historical landmark has suffered more indignity than the replica of the early home of founder Solomon Juneau. After being sealed to the public for decades, we got a peek inside.
Published Sept. 18, 2014
Back in spring, I posted some photo outtakes from my wanderings around town and you seemed to enjoy them. So, here are five more from the archive.
Published Sept. 16, 2014
Though the exhibition was a small one, Milwaukee photographer Kevin Miyazaki's "Perimeter" show at the Haggerty Museum was one of the highlights of the local arts scene in 2013. Now, the project is showcased in a hardcover book -- officially launched with an event on Wednesday, Sept. 17 -- and we caught up with Miyazaki to ask him about the inspiration for and the perspiration of creating this unmatched exploration of Lake Michigan and its diverse users.
Published Sept. 16, 2014
Decades after the break-up of The Rascals, Felix Cavaliere is still performing. We caught up with him before he arrives in Milwaukee this week for a gig at the Northern Lights Theater.
Published Sept. 15, 2014
There are few events more exciting for me than Doors Open Milwaukee, which takes place this coming weekend, Sept. 20-21, as dozens of locations around town as venues of all kinds swing open their doors to let Milwaukeeans see inside. There are churches, schools, office buildings, historic sites and much more.Here are six you won't want to miss!
Published Sept. 13, 2014
Like you, we love the Klement's Racing Sausages. But, the other day, while gazing down at the figures on a T-shirt celebrating 20 years of sal-seech, I wondered if a few of them couldn't use a bit of a makeover and if the time is ripe for a sixth member of the meat-grinder gang.
Published Sept. 10, 2014
Once upon a time, The Modjeska Theater, 1134 W. Mitchell St., was a neighborhood movie palace, the big daddy of Mitchell Street, the second busiest thoroughfare in Milwaukee after Wisconsin Avenue. Now, after four dormant years, and decades after it ended its run as a movie house, Mitchell Street Development Opportunity Corporation is cleaning it up, with an eye toward re-opening in spring with a mix of movies, concerts and other live performances.
Published Sept. 9, 2014
I love finding bits of Milwaukee history and now more than ever they're easy to find online.
Published Sept. 8, 2014
Madison's non-partisan Forward Institute released a report Monday that looked at education funding across the state of Wisconsin and found that over the past decade increasing poverty, deep education cuts, voucher expansion, the economic recession and growing rates of bilingual and special needs enrollment have led to a system that fuels funding and opportunity gaps among Wisconsin students and communities.
Published Sept. 7, 2014
A few weeks ago, I looked at missed opportunities, ugly spaces and other problem spots east of the river. This time, I go west.