By Jeff Sherman Staff Writer Published May 15, 2008 at 5:46 AM

Bradford Beach continues its comeback this Memorial Day weekend when Hi-Hat Group, one of the city's foremost and funkiest restaurant groups, assumes control of the Bradford Beach House and programming at Milwaukee's most popular patch of sand.

Leslie Montemurro and Scott Johnson who own (Kristyn St. Denis is the general manager) Hi-Hat, Hi-Hat Garage, Comet Cafe and Balzac, are partnering with Todd Gawronski of G1, Inc. and Todd Hall of X-Ray Marketing, to bring their magic, menus and event planning touch to nearly every aspect of a faded landmark that was once a shining star in the Milwaukee summer.

"Everyone we talked to at the County is genuinely pumped about getting the Bradford Beach House back up and running strong again," says Johnson.  "They also genuinely care about the water quality issues on the lake."

"This is something that we should be doing, and I just couldn’t be more proud of what’s happening (there)," says Milwaukee County Parks Director Sue Black. "I just can’t wait to see our beaches full of people. It’s still a work in progress, but this season people are going to see a big difference."

G1, Inc., has a one-year lease from Milwaukee County, which it hopes to extend by at least 10 years after a successful summer. Long-term plans include design upgrades and a possible collaboration to build the proposed Bradford Beach Water Garden.

"The long-term mission is to make Bradford Beach a destination," says Gawronski, who also spearheads the annual Bradford Beach Jam.

Johnson notes a "a palpable vibe of nostalgia" for Bradford Beach. "It's time," he says, "that Bradford Beach makes a comeback."

Gawronski says the revitalized Bradford Beach House will be open seven days a week and will offer a diverse menu of food and drinks, including beer, wine and spirits. In addition, the retail operation will sell brands like as Spy Sunglasses, Quicksilver Sportswear and Roxy.

"Our plans for the space and menu are to provide a seven-day-a-week presence down there, from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m., at least to start," says Johnson.

"There will be the usual hot dogs, pizza, popcorn, ice cream, soda, but we will also be offering homemade tacos, iced coffee and tea drinks, fresh fruit, bagels and juices, newspapers and free wi-fi.  There will be an ATM, and we will carry a full selection of towels, sunscreen, sand castle-building toys for the kids, flip flops and beach mats, bagged ice -- even shorts and sunglasses."

Beach goers can check out volleyballs, soccer balls and goals, even Baggo with an ID.

"We’d eventually like to get boogie boards, skim boards, innertubes and beach chairs," Johnson says. " Basically, ride your bike or skateboard down or pack the kids in the car and we’ll have everything you need. We’re really excited about making it a destination again."

Nightly beach sports leagues and new regularly scheduled events are planned for the entire summer, too.

"The consistent programming and advertising, along with the cross promotional support of Milwaukee County and our partners will drive an ever growing number of residents to the Bradford Beach area," Hall says.

No major structural or design changes are in store for this season, but could come down the road.

"This year we don’t have big plans for the building," says Johnson. "We’d like to make some improvements to the kitchen, but beyond that we’re not sure. We’d love to figure out some kind of three- or four-season solution to using the building, but without changing the architecture of this landmark building in a way that doesn’t suit it or the Beach.  If and / or when we cross that bridge, that will have to be a very thoughtful process.  But for now just focusing on the huge schedule of events for the summer is our first priority," adds Johnson. 

Summer events (subject to change):

May 24: Bradford Beach Memorial Day Beach Party
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Beach volleyball, soccer, Baggo, live music on Party Deck.

June 14: Bradford Beach Rock 'N' Roll Art Show
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Art Show and Live music on Party Deck.

June 21: U.S. Open of Beach Volleyball Midwest Qualifier
8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

July 4: Bradford Beach Bikinis, Boardshorts and Bands Beach Party 1 to 10 p.m. Ms. Bradford Beach Pageant and live music on Party Deck.

July 19: Lakefront to Lakefront Bike Ride & Bike Swap
1 to 10 p.m.

July 20: Balzac at the Beach Wine Tasting
Wine tasting and live music

July 25-27: Bradford Beach Jam Sports and Music Festival
Volleyball, soccer, rugby, dodgeball, wrestling, wind surfing, BMX, skate, freestyle motocross, disc golf, live music Friday evening, all day Saturday, Sunday afternoon. Four-person beach volleyball event feature former AVP Pro players on Sunday.

July 28-31: Downtown Employee Appreciation Week volleyball

Aug. 2: Copa de Praia beach soccer 

Aug. 16: Bradford Beach Rock 'N' Roll Art Show
Art Show and live music.

Aug. 23: AVPNext Midwest Region Beach Volleyball Championships
8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Aug. 23:  AVPNext Midwest Beach Volleyball Championships

Aug. 24: Balzac at the Beach Wine Tasting
Wine tasting and live music.

Aug. 29-30: Milwaukee Harley Davidson Bradford Beach Roadhouse

Aug. 31: Bradford Beach Labor Day Beach Party
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Beach volleyball, soccer, Baggo, live music on Party Deck.

Sept. 13: Lakefront to Lakefront Bike Ride & Bike Swap
Hours: 1 to 10 p.m.
Entertainment: Bike swap and DJ

Sept. 20: Sand and Bands Beach Party
UWM Sandcastle Competition, Jigglesfest Music Festival (a festival that dates back to 1986 with roots at Marquette University).

Jeff Sherman Staff Writer

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.