By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Oct 21, 2020 at 11:03 AM

There’s a new every day brunch spot to enjoy in Franklin. And it's deftly hidden in a strip mall just off of 76th Street.

Honey Butter Cafe quietly opened its doors to the public late last week at 7221 S. 76th St., serving up a menu of both sweet and savory dishes in well appointed modern digs.

The restaurant is owned and operated by Laz Koutromanos, owner of Open Flame Restaurant in Greenfield and his sister Elli Katroumanos, both of whom grew up working in the restaurant industry.

“We’ve operated dinner restaurants for our entire lives,” says Laz Koutromanos. “But we’ve been talking about doing a brunch restaurant for years. So, when I noticed the vacancy in the strip mall on 76th Street toward the end of last year, we looked into it.”

The location needed work, he says, so they took the space down to its studs, creating a space that combines elements of a classic family restaurant with fashionable contemporary elements like Edison bulbs, playful branded neon signs and eclectic lighting, along with details like bumble bee themed wallpaper.

The restaurant, which has a capacity of about 150 is currently operating at about one-third of capacity for safety reasons (cleverly blocking off unused tables with informative menu style signs), says Koutromanos, noting that they’ve implemented a variety of safety protocols from required mask-wearing for both staff and guests, to plentiful sanitizer stations, cleaning protocols and practices like condiments served in individual mini ramekins.

On the menu

Among the things customers see immediately after walking in is the full service marble bar, which serves up specialty bloody marys (made with a housemade mix), mimosas, cocktails and a selection of wine and craft and domestic beers.

They will also find a menu filled with scratch-made dishes from namesake honey butter toast (toast topped with honey butter, bananas, toasted coconut and seasonal fruit, $8) to rare finds like loukoumades, luffy bite-sized Greek doughnuts. They are available presented in the classic fashion: soaked in honey and topped with cinnamon ($7) or gussied up with additions like nutella and strawberries; honey, goat cheese and candied bacon; or white and milk chocolate and crushed Oreo cookies ($9).

Katroumanos says the goal for the cafe is to source ingredients from Wisconsin whenever possible, making use of items including freshly squeezed juices and locally sourced free-range brown eggs.

Those ingredients are incorporatted into a wide range of breakfast items from classic eggs, hash browns and toast ($7.50), biscuits and gravy ($9); four egg omelettes  ($11-$13) and eggs benedict ($11) to fancier takes including pulled pork rancheros benedict ($13); shrimp and grits ($15) and a variety of skillets, including the "Wisconsin" featuring sliced brats, beer braised onions, cheese curds and eggs any style ($12).

Similarly, guests can choose classic pancakes, Belgian waffles, French toast and crepes ($8) or dressed up versions like lemon coconut pancakes topped with lemon zest mascarpone and toasted coconut ($13) and s’mores graham cracker crusted French toast filled with Nutella and topped with toasted marshmallows ($12, photo below provided by Honey Butter Cafe).

There are also classic salads including Caesar, Greek and Cobb ($9 with protein upgrades like chicken, shrimp, salmon or filet) and freshly ground, hand-packed beef brisket burgers served on brioche with a choice of fries, haystack onions and seasonal fruit or soup for $10-12.

Among sandwich offerings are panini including a Cuban sandwich and panini gyro ($12 each); as well as options from the Savory Cornetto with avocado, over easy egg, tomato, spinach and goat cheese on a croissant cornetto ($12) and fried chicken with hot honey, mayo and pickles ($13); to the Fancy Schmancy, a grilled cheese topped with gouda, Swiss and cheddar on tomato basil bread and served with tomato basil soup ($9). The cafe also offers a Friday fish fry featuring three pieces of beer-battered cod, marble rye, coleslaw, roasted corn and French fries ($13).

Koutromanos says the Honey Butter Cafe space was built out to accommodate private evening events; so when times are safer, the restaurant will also offer rentals and catering for private parties and gatherings.

Honey Butter Cafe is open Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Friday through Sunday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. The restaurant offers dine-in, carry-out and curbside pick-up of its full menu with delivery on the way in the coming weeks.

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

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.