Barely a month had passed since Edgar's Calypso, a Caribbean-themed restaurant at 628 N. Water St., closed and new tenant JC's Pub & Grill moved in.
But by the look of the place now, you'd never guess that just weeks ago it was decked out in vibrant island colors, complete with a tropical thatched roof over the bar area.
The space now is significantly more subdued and chic, with warm, rich wall colors, dark table linens and an upscale Downtown vibe.
Owner Jonathan Cervero calls his debut venture a "nice, affordable restaurant and bar in the heart of Milwaukee." Its location just south of the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and Water Street is designated by the Milwaukee County Historical Society as an "historical corner," which explains why it reads "Come Make History" on JC's front door.
And once inside, your eyes gravitate toward the series of enlarged black and white prints capturing vintage images of the same corner when a large welcome sign greeted early 20th century visitors as they passed the newly constructed City Hall via cable car.
The city's past is important to Cervero, who made sure to incorporate a few Milwaukee-themed items to his menu, including a beer-battered, deep-fried hamburger, the Miltown martini and the occasional brat special.
Cervero cut his teeth as bar manager of Miller Park's 300 Club and spent six years working at Harry's Bar & Grill. He says his time spent under the N Star Corporation (Harry's, The Knick and North Shore Bistro) served as a major influence for the type of environment he'd wanted to create at JC's.
Earlier this week he welcomed new executive chef, David Engel formerly of Harry's and The Knick, just in time for Friday's grand opening party where he'll introduce himself via ample complementary appetizers and entrees.
"His attention to detail is exactly what we needed," says Cervero, who is planning a big bash for the opening night, complete with live music from The Pink Flamingos.
The restaurant's specialties include a wide selection of burgers done any which way, from stuffed with jalapenos and pepper jack cheese to topped with garlic mashed potatoes to trusted favorites like mushrooms and Swiss.
Cervero's personal favorite dish, however, is on the lighter side. He prefers the grilled salmon salad -- a fillet on a bed of lettuce, diced tomatoes, avocado, cucumber and balsamic vinaigrette.
Overall, the menu pulls classics from American tradition and fuses them with European bistro favorites.
You'll find the pizza fabuloso made with herb-infused olive oil, the grilled chicken panini and the hummus platter. Cervero calls it "pub food with flair."
JC's is open Monday through Saturday at 11 a.m. and serves food until 9 p.m. during the week and 10 p.m. on weekends. Tuesday is karaoke night starting at 9 p.m.
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.”