One of my favorite breakfast places in town has closed. Barclay Gallery & Garden Café, 158 S. Barclay St. in the Fifth Ward, has closed its cafe operations but will search for a new operator.
I've dined at Barclay countless times, and its Big City omelette was one of the City's best. I also loved their potatoes.
OnMilwaukee.com wrote the first story on this great space in 2004. Read it here. Anyway, let's hope owner John LeBrun finds a new operator soon. Personally, I wish him the best.
Here's the text of an e-mail from LeBrun. It outlines the reasons behind the closing:
"It's with great sadness that we're joining the other restaurants in Milwaukee that have had to send out similar messages to their customers over the past several months: effective immediately the Barclay Café is ceasing operation while we concentrate on finding a restaurant partner to take over the management and day-to-day operation of that portion of our business.
"I am extremely proud of the loyal following and many outstanding accomplishments that our staff has made since opening for business in October 2004. Many of our loyal customers have been with us since that day. Their support and positive word of mouth has helped fuel our growth. Jointly, we quickly became a destination for those seeking freshly-prepared meals in our comfortable, unique craft-gallery setting.
"Unfortunately, at the same time, we've been continually challenged by the Marquette Interchange reconstruction, neighborhood building construction and the resulting parking challenges associated with it, rising food, service, fuel and utility costs, weather-related issues and the numerous other challenges of operating an independent, single-location restaurant business.
"As our regular customers know, I have been a proponent of supporting the independent businesses of Milwaukee, both restaurant and other retail. In this tough economic climate, it's not only important, it's critical. Despite our best efforts, I find that I, as a sole proprietor, am unable to continue to support the operation of the restaurant portion of this business. As such, we will begin an immediate search for another restaurant operator to take over the operation at the earliest possible time.
"Believe me, over the past 3-plus years, I have experienced every possible emotion in operating this business. I will always hold dear the joy of meeting so many fine customers and friends, working with a dedicated staff that is as close as any family can be, and continuing to deliver quality food at a reasonable price.
"I am also proud of the many accomplishments that the employees of the Barclay Café have made in the past 3 years. Jointly, we have become a popular destination for diners from both near and far, and become one of the pre-eminent brunch spots in town. I thank all of you who spread the word about us, gave us feedback and have been loyal despite our occasional inconsistencies, staff changes and other moments of turmoil.
"Importantly, as we look for someone to take over the Café, I ask your help in supporting our gallery so that we might continue to operate that portion of our business. Ultimately, your support over the next few weeks will likely determine the future of that business as well.
"On behalf of myself, Brian Santner and the rest of our staff, we're looking forward to brighter days in the near future."
A life-long and passionate community leader and Milwaukeean, Jeff Sherman is a co-founder of OnMilwaukee.
He grew up in Wauwatosa and graduated from Marquette University, as a Warrior. He holds an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University, and is the founding president of Young Professionals of Milwaukee (YPM)/Fuel Milwaukee.
Early in his career, Sherman was one of youngest members of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, and currently is involved in numerous civic and community groups - including board positions at The Wisconsin Center District, Wisconsin Club and Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. He's honored to have been named to The Business Journal's "30 under 30" and Milwaukee Magazine's "35 under 35" lists.
He owns a condo in Downtown and lives in greater Milwaukee with his wife Stephanie, his son, Jake, and daughter Pierce. He's a political, music, sports and news junkie and thinks, for what it's worth, that all new movies should be released in theaters, on demand, online and on DVD simultaneously.
He also thinks you should read OnMilwaukee each and every day.