Here at OnMilwaukee.com, we pride ourselves in being Milwaukee experts. Since it's literally our job to eat, sleep and breathe all things Brew City, we get lots of questions from our readers.
This is where we answer them.
In the "Ask OMC" series, we take your questions, big or small, and track down the answers. Send your query to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include your name and location, and we'll consider it for our next installment.
Our question this time comes from Dave in Cudahy, who asks:
"What's the deal with the two new bars at the corner of Kinnickinic and Lincoln in Bay View? When are they going to open?"
Dave is referring to two properties that are currently in the construction phase. The first is the Sugar Maple, which is located at 411 E. Lincoln Ave., a site that formerly housed the Sikh Temple. The other building, which will be just west of the Sugar Maple, will house Café Centraal, which will be operated by Mike Eitel, Eric Wagner and the Diablos Rojos restaurant group, which also run Trocadero and Café Hollander (which was originally to be named Café Centraal).
The Sugar Maple is farther along in its development. Owners Bruno Johnson and Adrienne Pierluissi, the husband and wife team behind Palm Tavern, hope to be ready for business just after St. Patrick's Day. The sign went up a few weeks ago, which has created some awareness (and probably drew the attention of Dave in Cudahy).
Johnson said that the prospect of starting the new bar from scratch was tougher than taking over Palm Tavern.
"We're going from the ground up," he said. "There was a lot less work (at Palm). There are more headaches here, but now that we've got the walls plastered and the place looks great, you can sense what it's going to be like. In your imagination, you can see it."
Palm Tavern is known for its cozy environment and huge selection of beers. The Sugar Maple, will be much larger inside and will carry 60 draft beers, most of them from Midwest breweries, and Johnson expects some similarities between the new place and the Palm.
"I think definitely going to be able to walk in there and sense, if you've got your wits about you, that they're owned by the same people," Johnson said. "I try to make (Palm Tavern) esoteric on every level. Point is the most recognizable beer I have.
"I'm not going to have mass-market beers, but I'll have Lakefront, Sprecher and others. There will be a lot of Midwest beers. There are so many doing great beer that there is no reason to bring any in from the West Coast or the East Coast."
Although demolition work was completed in mid-summer, little work has been done of late. Eitel and Wagner have been focusing on a recent restructuring of their company and their existing business.
Eitel said Centraal, which could open in early May, may remind people of Café Hollander or Trocadero, but with a "grittier urban-ness."
"It will be more Amsterdam than Brussels, but heavy on the Belgian beers," he said.
Centraal will feature an enclosed outdoor patio and Eitel joked that the interior "will again demonstrate our penchant for spending too much on recycled materials in a futile attempt to help save the earth."
Ald. Tony Zielinski, who represents the 14th District, said the addition of Sugar Maple and Café Centraal will aid in the revitalization of the Kinnickinic corridor, which he lists as one of his top priorities.
"K.K. and Lincoln is a major business strip," Zielinski said. "It's the ideal location to attract business people with proven track records. If you look at Mike Eitel's other places like Trocadero and Café Hollander, they are the kind of trendy businesses that can revitalize that strip.
"Historically, the area was a weak link in Bay View from a residential standpoint. These types of businesses will help housing stock. It will help in the revitalization of the area.
"We're already working to bring in other retailers. It would be premature to name them publicly, but it's going to help. I envision great things for K.K. I think it's going to look a lot totally different in four years.
"I think it's going to be fantastic," he said. "Hopefully, it will stretch down K.K. and further down Lincoln. I think it will help everyone in the neighborhood. It will become a destination.
"I hate that "new East Side" kid of thing, but I think it's going to be like Brady Street. The whole neighborhood is coming up."
Host of “The Drew Olson Show,” which airs 1-3 p.m. weekdays on The Big 902. Sidekick on “The Mike Heller Show,” airing weekdays on The Big 920 and a statewide network including stations in Madison, Appleton and Wausau. Co-author of Bill Schroeder’s “If These Walls Could Talk: Milwaukee Brewers” on Triumph Books. Co-host of “Big 12 Sports Saturday,” which airs Saturdays during football season on WISN-12. Former senior editor at OnMilwaukee.com. Former reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.