By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Mar 26, 2023 at 6:00 PM Photography: Royal Brevvaxling

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Just over a year ago, Cee Cee Ceman opened C.C.’s Elbow Room in the former Sabella’s Pub at 2850 N. Brookfield Rd. in Brookfield. 

C.C.’s is a cozy tavern with a small open kitchen. The food and drink menus are simple, but everything is fresh, carefully prepared and mostly made from scratch.

Ceman, with helpers, gutted the building and recreated it inch by inch. She also added a large patio in the front of the building that offers outdoor seating in the summer and winter, thanks to a dome that customers can access for free.

“I had two, but one blew away,” says Ceman, laughing.

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The overall look and feel of C.C.’s is elegance meets tavern. The inviting space is small with a large, horseshoe-shaped bar as the centerpiece that was from the former Blatz Brewery tasting room in the 1930s. The dark walls and unique lighting fixtures create an appealing ambiance.

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Five flatscreen TVs were on, but because the sound was off, not overwhelming in the least. During local sporting events, however, it’s sound-on and a place to party.

"It's really fun in here for games because of its smallness. People are all cheering for the same team; it really brings a community feel to the space," she says.

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The drink menu features five signature cocktails: Tito’s Bloody Mary, Lustau Brandy Old Fashioned, Maker’s Mark Manhattan, Absolute Citron Cosmopolitan Martini and a handmade Margarita. Eight different beers are available on tap as well as bottles and cans, spirits, hard ciders and a solid selection of wine.

“I like to go local whenever I can,” says Ceman.

The food menu includes appetizers – like the lightly-breaded and extremely flavorful cheese curds – sandwiches, a chicken Caesar salad and pinsas which are Roman-style pizzas with fluffier, oblong crusts.

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During recent visits, we sampled the Old Fashioned – served with a Luxardo cherry, the cheese curds, truffle fries, bacon cheeseburger, Reuben sandwich and fish fry that is only available on Fridays.

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Everything we sampled was really tasty. The deliciousness of C.C.’s food is in the details: The corned beef for the Reuben is slow-roasted for 13 hours in house; the made-from-scratch coleslaw with our fish fry is light and slightly creamy – one of the best we’ve had; the patty for the bacon cheeseburger is a great blend of brikset, short rib and chuck and we topped ours with fresh and flavorful muenster cheese (Swiss, smoked gouda and cheddar are also available); and the hand-cut truffle fries are rich and soft with perfect crispy outsides and served with a side of BBQ aioli.

“I wanted to do food, but not all brown bar food. Everything I serve is fresh,” she says.

Another draw to C.C.'s is Ceman herself. Warm, upbeat and easy to talk to, Ceman interacts with everyone in her bar and grill.

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The customers at C.C.’s are a mix of people who live in the area and those who traveled from Milwaukee and beyond because they heard or read positive reviews of the business.

“We’re a neighborhood corner bar where everyone is welcome," says Ceman. "When you walk in the door we don’t look at someone new like ‘what are you doing here.’ Instead, we see a new face and are like ‘welcome, come on in!’”

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Opening a corner bar and restaurant is a dream fulfilled for Ceman, who started working in the service industry when she was 15. She also worked as a pie-maker for Marie Callender’s. But for most of her adult life she was a wife and mother to two girls, now grown.

When Ceman’s husband passed away and her daughter was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer (she is currently in remission) she gave serious thought to what she really wanted to do.

“I still have a lot of life in me and I love the hospitality industry,” she says. “Someday, I might travel, but for now, this is exactly what I want to be doing.”

Ceman says her favorite part of owning the bar is seeing people unwind, relax and socialize.

“People make a choice to go out and have a good time and I want to be the person who helps them have a good time. Or maybe they had a crappy day and need some pepping up and we’re here for that too,” she says. “The joy of seeing people come in after a bad day, then they sit down and I see the stress melt off of them is very rewarding.”

Ceman plans to offer more entertainment in the future including outdoor festivals on the patio, but she has no plans to expand even though there is open space behind the building.

“I love the charming-ness of how it is,” she says. “This has all been a dream come true. I’m very lucky.”

Follow C.C.'s Elbow Room on Facebook and Instagram.

C.C.’s Elbow Room is open Tuesday-Friday from 4 p.m. to bar time; Saturday from noon to bar time; and Sunday from noon to 7 p.m. The kitchen is open to 9 p.m. most nights and until 7 p.m. on Sundays.

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.