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What would you like to see in this space?
What would you like to see in this space?
Currently, it is the home of Studio G, which includes The Milwaukee Mask and Puppet Theatre and the Milwaukee Public Theatre.
Currently, it is the home of Studio G, which includes The Milwaukee Mask and Puppet Theatre and the Milwaukee Public Theatre.

5 national chains that could work at Grand Avenue mall

Big changes are in the works for The Shops at Grand Avenue, 275 W. Wisconsin Ave., which was purchased by Brooklyn real estate investor Alex Levin last year.

Recently, The Business Journal reported that the mall is negotiating a lease with a national retailer to move into the 30,000-square foot space in the Plankinton Arcade that was formerly home to Linens ’N Things.

This is particularly good news considering the mall’s struggles over the past decade and it got us thinking about five retailers that would best fill the large space. What would you like to see in the space? (It’s not large enough for an IKEA, otherwise that would have topped our list.)

1. Trader Joe’s

A quality, affordable grocery store would do well in the neighborhood. Plus, the Downtown population deserves easier access to fresh food, addictive snacks, interesting and tantalizing ethnic appetizers and, of course, bottles of Two Buck Chuck. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

2. Best Buy

For people living and working near Downtown, not having to drive out to the ‘burbs for new electronics would most likely be a welcomed addition.

3. REI

Just think: you could buy a canoe and paddle off to a variety of local bars with slips in the same day.

4. Designer Shoe Warehouse (DSW)

The Wauwatosa DSW at The Mayfair Collection is always bustling and people are going to wear footwear for the foreseeable future, so a shoe emporium just makes sense. (Photo: Shutterstock)

5. Target

The space might be a bit snug for a Target, but we’re going to dream big and suggest it anyway. Plus, OnMilwaukee.com's Jeff Sherman has been asking for this since 2010, and cities like Chicago have Target shops located in downtown spaces.

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Junior's Hook will replace The Parlor, in photo.
Junior's Hook will replace The Parlor, in photo.

Junior's Hook enters the Walker's Point bar ring

"Bar Month" at OnMilwaukee.com – brought to you by Stoli Vodka, Altos Tequila, Fireball, OR-G, Jim Beam, Plymouth Gin and 2 Gingers – is back for another round! The whole month of February, we're serving up intoxicatingly fun articles on bars and clubs – including guides, the latest trends, bar reviews, the results of our Best of Bars poll and more. Grab a designated driver and dive in!

Matthew "Sherm" Sherman will open Junior’s Hook at 1517 S. 2nd St. The space has been home to The Parlor, The Bomb Shelter and The Monkey Bar in recent years.

Sherman spent the last 10 years working at Champion’s Pub, 2417 N. Bartlett Ave., and has been in the industry for 15 years.

The name of the bar is a tribute to his father, a former Air Force boxer whose nickname is Junior.

"It’s going to be an homage to boxing, but not a ‘boxing bar,’" says Sherman. "More punk rock."

The exact opening date is uncertain, but most likely in two or three weeks. Stay tuned to OnMilwaukee.com for a first look when the bar opens.

A cake baker, a package of cookies and Gene Simmons' tongue.
A cake baker, a package of cookies and Gene Simmons' tongue.

Red velvet Oreos reap mixed reviews

Last fall, I first heard wind (and by that I mean I read it on Facebook) that Nabisco planned to introduce a limited-edition, red velvet Oreo on Monday, Feb. 1.

Even though I had been burned by the dreadful candy corn Oreo, I actually marked the red velvet release date on my calendar so I wouldn’t forget. I’ve been a fan of the unnaturally red dessert ever since the day I first tried a slice at the Fuel Cafe in the early ‘90s.

The weather was rough on Monday, but we went out for Oreos anyway. Perhaps it was blizzard-related, but neither the Metro Market, 1123 N. Van Buren St., nor Walgreens, 1433 W. Burnham St., had the cookies.

Disappointed but determined, we trudged back to the Metro Market on Tuesday night to finally score the elusive snack. We found them, but not without a search. The red velvets weren't stocked in the cookie aisle with the other Oreos, instead they were stacked on an end cap – and strangely, sans a sign.

My very first impression was disappointment – the package is about half the size of a regular package of Oreos – and yet the cost was 50 cents more. ($3.50 for 10.7 ounces.)

I bought two boxes anyway.

The package features an extremely delectable-looking slice of red velvet cake, but also the less-delectable words "cream cheese flavored creme." Then I glanced at the ingredients and, not surprisingly, saw sugar, high-fructose corn syrup and red dye 40 on the list. But Oreos are not oranges, and so, let's move on.

I busted open the bag and ate one of the fancy Oreos before my partner started the car. My first thought was that they were pretty good, less sweet than regular Oreos so they didn’t make my teeth weep after two bites. However, I also thought that they didn’t really taste much like the red velvet cake I’d eaten in the past.

And so, I took my plastic tray of vaguely velvety, creme-filled snacks straight to a professional – who, at the time, was drinking with friends at Sabbatic, 700 S. 2nd St.

Jenni Blank has …

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Buddha Lounge serves lunch and dinner daily.
Buddha Lounge serves lunch and dinner daily.
The vision is for couples to come on date night.
The vision is for couples to come on date night.
Owner Josef Goldstein and a Buddha Lounge server.
Owner Josef Goldstein and a Buddha Lounge server.
Thumbs up for the Buddha bar.
Thumbs up for the Buddha bar.
Lucky Buddha beer bottle. Makes a great flower vase after the brew's gone.
Lucky Buddha beer bottle. Makes a great flower vase after the brew's gone.

First Look: Buddha Lounge

Last night, we stopped in at the Buddha Lounge, 1504 E. North Ave., which opened on Monday. It was originally scheduled to open on Jan. 1, but extensive remodeling set back the opening date a few weeks.

The Asian-themed bar and restaurant is divided into two areas. The front space is a cozy-meets-classy dining area with deep red walls, large Buddha statues, servers dressed in traditional Asian garb and ambient lighting.

"We’re going for upscale Asian," says co-owner Josef Goldstein. "A place for a date night."

The menu features a mix of Vietnamese, Japanese, Thai, American and Chinese dishes. Most of the entree prices are between $12 and $18.

Signature dishes include the Buddha Bowl – beef or pork marinated in a house sauce and served with an eggroll on top of rice noodles, shrimp in a blanket – deep fried shrimp wrapped in wonton wrappers, bahn mi sandwiches, sushi and pho.

We sampled a spicy tuna sushi roll – six pieces for $9 – and although it wasn’t stand out, it was fresh and flavorful.

The bar in the back has more of an upbeat, social environment. There are flat screen TVs on the wall and a drink menu featuring beer (with a large selection of Asian beer, including our favorite, Lucky Buddha), wine, martinis and a "Buddha Mary," which is a Bloody Mary made with saki instead of vodka and garnished with a full egg roll, "shrimp in a blanket" and a celery stick.

Goldstein and his business partner Dr. Michael Nguyen also own two dental practices called Dr. Molar Family Dentistry. Goldstein says he originally met Nguyen as a dental patient. Later, the two became friends and decided to go into business together.

Originally, they wanted to open a restaurant in the former Barclay Cafe – now 88Nine Radio Milwaukee / Stone Creek Coffee – but they lost in the bidding process.

"We both really love food and were excited this place became available," says Goldstein. "We are excited to finally do something of our own."

Even though the North Avenue …

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