In early December, we reported that Cafe Centraal, 2306 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., would be closing for an extensive makeover.
Today, the Lowlands Group revealed additional details about its plans for the 10-year-old venue, including a new name for the restaurant, which is expected to open in February as Centraal Grand Cafe & Tappery.
In addition to an expanded kitchen, new food and beverage coolers, refinished flooring, a redesigned bar and a dramatic visual update throughout the space, guests can look forward to the launch of an entirely new beverage experience featuring more than 70 beverages on tap, including beer, wine, cocktails and craft soda, along with tea, coffee and other non-alcoholic offerings.
Part of the renovations will include moving the cafe’s main entrance to the front corner of the building, which overlooks Kinnickinnic and Lincoln Avenues.
"It sounds trivial, but the design really unfolded from the idea that the front door for Centraal really should be on the corner of KK and Lincoln," noted Dan Herwig, director of brand and marketing at Lowlands Group in a press release. "For decades, the building was a neighborhood drugstore with one of those quintessential corner entrances. We started the project with that as a major focus, and it ended up driving many of the space decisions inside."
The space will also be divided into two distinct spaces: the "tappery" at the front and the "Grand Cafe," an area at the back of the restaurant which will focus on brunch, lunch and dinner.
The design, which is a collaboration between Lowlands Group, 360 Degrees and Rinka Architecture, will also include a new event space with an art gallery vibe, featuring prints from Amsterdam artist Eddy Varekamp, as well as an extensive courtyard for outdoor dining.
Inspired by the eclectic, international food culture surrounding Amsterdam’s Centraal Station, Centraal Grand Cafe & Tappery will maintain a focus on diverse, global café fare. However, the new menu will also feature a variety of "snacks" as well as large-format platters meant for sharing between diners.
Highlights will include a section of "friets," traditional Dutch street food that will come in "loaded" styles such as friets speciaal including curry ketchup, mayonnaise and diced raw onions and Kapsalon featuring levantine meat, melted gouda, dressed greens, sambal and garlic sauce.
"Beyond the snacky items, we’ve made a big push toward more global flavors, including Middle Eastern, Asian, and Central American-inspired dishes," says Thomas Hauck, culinary director of the Lowlands Group. "And while we’re adding lots of new dishes, we’re still keeping the DNA of Centraal intact with many of the old favorites making a return, albeit with a few tweaks here and there."
Like its sister restaurant, Cafe Hollander, Centraal will also launch a daily menu of full-service, sit-down breakfast items as well as a daily brunch menu focusing on fresh, local ingredients from Wisconsin sources like Yuppie Hill Poultry and Sassy Cow Creamery.
"We’re really excited to reinvest in Bay View," adds Herwig."The neighborhood had grown so much in the past decade and our hope is that this new, ‘gussied up’ Centraal helps contribute to its next decade of growth."
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.