By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published May 12, 2014 at 11:03 AM

Progress is being made on the second location for Hue. Owners Mark Nielsen and Carina (Cat) Tran expect the Wauwatosa location to open sometime in July.

The building, at 6519 W. North Ave., has been completely gutted and drywall has been hung.

"New cement floors have been poured and they’ll be polishing them in the next week or so," says Nielsen, who has been spending a great deal of his time overseeing the remodel.

The decision to open a second location in the quickly growing Tosa market was an easy one, Nielson says.

"We love Bay View," he says. "And our restaurant there will always be the Mother Ship, but we're really excited about Wauwatosa. We have a lot of freedom with the design and we can really make it ours."

And Nielsen says he feels Hue will be a valuable addition to North Avenue, which already supports established restaurants like Mekong Cafe and is expected to welcome Thai-namite later this year.

"There is a lot of rice getting sold on North Avenue right now and in the future," Nielsen admits. "However, I believe that what makes us different and unique is that we have a Vietnamese inspired cuisine that's rooted in traditional methods. We're not here to win authenticity contests; we just really want to share our Vietnamese inspired food. We also bring things to the table when it comes to customer service, restaurant design that really make us stand out."

He says that one of the big advantages of the Tosa location will be additional space.

"Everything is about twice as large, compared to Bay View," he notes. "From the kitchen and bar to the dining area. And we'll have a patio behind the building. We're really excited about the patio; it's something we haven't been able to have, so we really want to develop."

As far as décor is concerned, Tran says that they’ll incorporate some of the same colors that are being used in Bay View – such as the warm deep yellow and cranberry tones present in the dining room.

"The palate will be familiar, and yet unique," she says. "We want to develop into a really warm, intimate space. But, the ceilings in the new space are open, with visible joists. So, the look will be edgier."

Walls will be decorated with a collection of art the couple picked up on a recent visit to the Vietnam, as well as additional featured artists.

The bar is being designed to accommodate two bartenders, so Nielson projects that they’ll be able to provide more efficient bar service at the new location.

"We'll have a craft cocktail program, as well as six to eight taps, which we haven't been able to do in Bay View," he says. "We'd like to focus on craft beer that really pairs well with food. We're going to have a couple of consistent offerings, but the rest will be revolving craft brews."

When it comes to food, Nielson says they’ll be remaining true to the Hue brand.

"About 80 percent of the menu will be the same," he says. "But we will be adding some items that are unique to the Tosa location. We'll probably be looking to do a bit more seafood – either on the menu or in specials."

Items like skewered and grilled whole prawns in a lemongrass garlic marinade have been featured as specials at the Bay View location, and may make it onto the menu.

And the Hue fish fry – featuring Vietnamese beer battered Swai, a type of catfish commonly eaten in Thailand and Vietnam, served with Thai basil aioli instead of tartar sauce and served alongside garlic and onion fried rice.

"When we saw Tosa, we looked at market radius, and we realized that it provided a much bigger area than Bay View, which is bordered on one side by the lake," Nielson notes. "We already get people who visit us from Mequon and Whitefish Bay, so we know that people travel for our food. So, we're looking forward to marketing further west." 

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor

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.