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Long home to Samano’s Mexican Restaurant, the turreted Queen Anne building at 3431 E. Plankinton Ave. in Cudahy – which we visited in September – has now been sold.
"(I'm) currently giving the building a much need makeover and addressing all of the deferred maintenance," says new owner, Tim Dertz.
"The goal eventually is to make the commercial space as turn key as possible for a future restaurant."
Dertz says the place has sentimental value for him.
"I didn’t need another project," he says, "but I’ve always admired this property. Samano’s was one of my first dates with my wife."
It was built by the Miller Brewing Company as a tied house saloon and 13-room hotel in 1894. Tied houses were saloons erected and owned by breweries and leased to operators who sold the brewery's products exclusively. They were often decorated and furnished by the brewery with objects emblazoned with the company's logos.
It appears the building was designed by architect Charles Kirchhoff, who drew many tied houses for Schlitz Brewing, and cost $5,800 to build. Miller was simultaneously building another Kirchhoff saloon/hotel in North Milwaukee at the same cost, suggesting this structure might have had a twin.
The tavern was on the first floor and the upper floors had the hotel rooms, as well as a residence for the barkeep, one of whom was Paul Mlodzik, who served as Cudahy’s mayor in the 1910s-20s, and ran the place as The Comfort.
You can see Mlodsik behind the bar in the photo just below.
Brewery records from 1917 suggest it might've been Miller's only tied house in Cudahy that year. It was run by Ed Grunewald, who had replaced Mlodzik at saloonkeeper, and had a book value of $7,923.90, suggesting it did a pretty good business.
The building in the 1960s (below). (PHOTOS: Courtesy of Wendy Gustafson Scherwenka)
During Prohibition, the saloon became a soft drinks parlor, which was often common parlance for illicit saloon, though not always. However, this one was padlocked by a judge for Prohibition violations in 1926, when it was run by John Frank, as Frank's Hotel.
The 1,710-square-foot (which must just be the first floor as the whole place is bigger than that) building is at the foot of Kinnickinnic Avenue, just off Layton Avenue.
Samano’s opened in 1967, but closed in June.
Co-owner Felicia Samano – whose grandparents started the restaurant – told the Journal Sentinel that they were selling the building but would also consider selling the Samano’s Restaurant name and training a new owner on running it.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.