When Third Ward martini lounge Penthouse on Broadway closed in May after only a year in business, co-owner Dona Myers admits she wasn't all that surprised. After counting a total of 31 bars serving the small neighborhood, she realized it just didn't need another one.
For her newest venture with business partner Chris Strebe, she decided to look at what the area did need. Brothers Café, a quick, casual restaurant offering the lunch trifecta of soup, salad and sandwiches, is her response to a gap she saw in the Third Ward lunch market.
"We looked at our experience in the Third Ward and it seemed like everything here was a sit-down restaurant," Myers says. But a lot of people work in the Third Ward -- it's a captive audience for eight hours a day. We thought, 'If there are that many people down here, why aren't there any quick sandwich shops?'"
Brothers Café opened July 9 at 184 N. Broadway, next to Jaime Wilke Interiors. Originally, Myers named it Three Brothers -- a loose reference to soup, salad and sandwiches -- and although it still appears on some signage, she's since changed it to avoid confusion with the Bay View Serbian restaurant of the same name. There is no connection between the two businesses.
Myers' café space is large, with plenty of tables for dining inside or outside along Broadway. The point, she says, is to make everything easy to carry out. Sandwiches ($5.25) are prepared to order and feature Boar's Head Meats (ham, roast beef, turkey), as well veggie and meatball selections. They come on your choice of Miller Bakery white or wheat sub rolls or tortilla or lettuce wraps.
The salad bar is a serve-yourself option, with small bowls for $5.50 and large for $6.25. The regular vegetable fixings, plus additional cold cuts, double as topping for the baked potato ($4.75).
Myers says she loves to top off her baked potato with her Wisconsin cheese soup, which is available daily ($2.50-$5.50). She rotates her other soups between hearty varieties like corn chowder and broccoli cheese. This fall, she'll expand into chili.
"Being a native Texan and moving up here seven years ago, I have been absolutely amazed by how much soup Wisconsinites consume in the summer," she says. "I sold out of my corn chowder during the Third Ward's Summer Sizzle festival!"
The soups, salads and sandwiches are available started at 10:30 a.m. until close at 7 p.m., but Myers opens at 8:30 a.m. every morning except Sunday to serve muffins, bagels and Alterra coffee. Cookies, brownies and eight flavors of Cedar Crest ice cream round out the dessert menu.
By Sept. 1, Brothers Café will offer custom-cut service on all its Boar's Head Meats so customers can order deli slices by the pound.
OnMilwaukee.com staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.
As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When OnMilwaukee.com offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”