"Bar Month" at OnMilwaukee.com 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, bartender profiles and more. Grab a designated driver and dive in!
With a last name that’s been a part of Milwaukee nightlife for more than 100 years, Mike Vitucci is several years removed from his family’s cocktail lounge on the East Side but he’s still bringing new ideas and concepts to the city.
This spring, on the heels of the huge success of Whiskey Bar, Vitucci will open Belmont Tavern at 784 N. Jefferson St. Formerly home to Melody’s for Women (owned by Vitucci’s cousin), the 2,000-square foot space will be completely transformed from a retail store to a contemporary, upscale, Downtown tavern.
Vitucci, who opened Whisky Bar in 2009 and also owns Caffrey’s and Murphy’s on Marquette’s campus, said he’s always loved the East Town neighborhood next to Cathedral Square and sees Belmont Tavern as a continuation of the area’s growth and maturation.
Building owner Joel Lee and Vitucci have a good relationship, and Vitucci has the vision to see a new concept in an old space that’s just steps away from Taylor’s and several other bars and restaurants, including Serum, Blackthorn Pub and Grill, Elsa’s and The Pfister’s Mason Street Grill and Blu.
"Belmont will tie in perfectly with the neighborhood and truly help bookend it," added Vitucci.
Belmont Tavern will feature an artsy, open air, classic art deco style with 10-foot doors that will fully open to the street and a patio. It’s a sun-drenched space that will be perfect for after work, said Vitucci.
Designed by Scott Genke and "inspired by the elegance of the art deco eras of the 1920s and 30s," Belmont will have a capacity of 150 with high top seating, a full bar, piano, custom furniture made by local craftsmen and an "entertaining, upbeat feel." Some of Genke's prior work includes Sheridan's, Decibel, Yaffa and Mantra Lounge when it was owned by Vitucci.
Vitucci sees Belmont capturing the 30 and up crowd, since the "sophistication of the space" will have a slightly older appeal. Of course, like any good bar owner, Vitucci won’t limit his reach. He’s done things right at Whiskey Bar drawing a diverse mix of ages and backgrounds. Coupling quieter, yet upbeat music and an open concept will be unique for Downtown, so Belmont should be able to find a nice niche.
"We see great potential in the space," he said.
Belmont Tavern is targeted for a June 1 opening, just one day before the first Jazz in the Park concert of the season.
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.