For the eighth straight year, October is Dining Month on OnMilwaukee.com, presented by Locavore, the newest restaurant at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino. All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, delectable features, chef profiles and unique articles on everything food, as well as the winners of our "Best of Dining 2014."
Growing up, Omar Amin spent a lot of time in Downtown Milwaukee. This is, in part, why he decided to open his first restaurant in the neighborhood.
"A long time ago, my father used to take me to the Grand Avenue to go shopping. I have memories of it being a hustling, bustling place. The place to be. And then it changed. It wasn’t like it once was," says Amin. "I have taken it on as a personal goal to rebuild some of that, make the reality of Downtown more like my memories."
In May, Amin – along with cousin and business partner Alaa Musa – opened BB’s, 633 W. Wisconsin Ave. "BB’s" stands for "build a breakfast" and "build a burger." Build-your-own smoothies and milkshakes are also available.
The build-a-burger options include a 1/4- or 1/2-pound black Angus beef burger, a turkey burger or a walnut burger topped with choice of cheese, more than a dozen vegetables and served on a brioche, wheat, pretzel or gluten-free bun.
The burgers range from $7.50 to $9 and add-on toppings like turkey or applewood bacon, grilled pineapple, eggs and sauteed mushrooms are available for an extra $1.
The menu also features a variety of appetizers, sandwiches, wings, salads and soups – including a beer cheese soup.
The build-a-breakfast menu offers an omelet or burrito made with cage-free, antibiotic-free eggs and stuffed with a choice of ingredients from grilled chicken, chorizo, bacon, cheese, veggies and more.
Chicken and waffles, eggs Benedict, two kinds of hash (corned beef and chorizo), biscuits and gravy, waffles, French toast and pancakes – including PB&J pancakes – are also on the breakfast menu which is available daily until 3 p.m.
The most popular item on the burger menu is the "floating burger," a 1/2-pound burger topped with bacon, fried egg, two types of cheese, lettuce, tomato and a signature sauce. There’s also a floating pancake, which is actually a stack of cakes layered with hash browns, bacon and eggs.
Server and bartender Roberto Valdez has only seen three people finish the floating breakfast – one of whom was a woman.
"I think she was a runner. When I served it to her she said, ‘that’s a lot of food’ and then dumped syrup all over it and went to town. It was beautiful and scary at the same time. I was simultaneously intimidated and impressed," says Valdez. "And when she was done, I bought her a shot."
Prior to opening BBs, Amin traveled extensively, figuring out what he wanted to serve in his restaurant. He came to the conclusion that using fresh ingredients is the most important component.
"The only thing I use my freezer for is the French fries. Everything else is fresh – including the burgers which are always 100 percent Angus beef," he says. "Maybe it’s because I grew up in the restaurant, but I can taste when a burger has been frozen or food was prepped the day before. Nothing stays in my cooler longer than a day."
Amin’s family operates Casablanca, 728 E. Brady St. (his cousin Musa co-owns it) Amin grew up working in the restaurant as a busser, cook, server and bartender when it was still located on Mitchell Street and well after it moved to Brady Street.
"Ever since I was a little kid I wanted to own a restaurant and it finally happened," says Amin. "I also love burgers and wanted to do something unique."
BB’s is available for dine in, carry out or delivery. Soon, it will have a walk in, to-go section featuring sandwiches, muffins, pastry, fresh juices, coffee and milkshakes.
"We’ve been so slammed I have not had time to do it, but it will happen very soon," says Amin.
BBs also has a full bar, with a 2-for-1 happy hour Monday-Friday from 3 to 6 p.m. There’s also a back room with pool tables and TVs.
So far, Amin is pleased with how the restaurant is developing. His clientele comes primarily from hotels and offices, along with Marquette students and a solid brunch crowd from all over the city.
"I love every second of this," he says. "Whether it’s busy or slow or if problems arise – it’s all part of running a business."
BB's is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day.
Molly Snyder grew up on Milwaukee's East Side and today, she lives in the Walker's Point neighborhood with her partner and two sons.
As a full time senior writer, editorial manager and self-described experience junkie, Molly has written thousands of articles about Milwaukee (and a few about New Orleans, Detroit, Indianapolis, Boston and various vacation spots in Wisconsin) that range in subject from where to get the best cup of coffee to an in-depth profile on the survivors of the iconic Norman apartment building that burned down in the '90s.
She also once got a colonic just to report on it, but that's enough on that.
Always told she had a "radio voice," Molly found herself as a regular contributor on FM102, 97WMYX and 1130WISN with her childhood radio favorite, Gene Mueller.
Molly's poetry, essays and articles appeared in many publications including USA Today, The Writer, The Sun Magazine and more. She has a collection of poetry, "Topless," and is slowly writing a memoir.
In 2009, Molly won a Milwaukee Press Club Award. She served as the Narrator / writer-in-residence at the Pfister Hotel from 2013-2014. She is also a story slam-winning storyteller who has performed with The Moth, Ex Fabula and Risk!
When she's not writing, interviewing or mom-ing, Molly teaches tarot card classes, gardens, sits in bars drinking Miller products and dreams of being in a punk band again.