By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Feb 28, 2016 at 10:01 PM

Odd Duck owners Chef Ross Bachhuber and Melissa Buchholz have signed a lease on the restaurant space at 2301 E Howell Ave., formerly the home of Lombardi's and Strada Pizza.

The restaurant, tentatively named Hello Falafel, will be a fast casual counter-service restaurant, specializing in the cuisine of the Middle East with a focus on locally sourced products. Heading up the kitchen will be Chef de Cuisine Theresa Schuenke, a long time member of the Odd Duck kitchen staff who has a varied culinary background in both Milwaukee and New Orleans.

Predominantly vegetarian, the restaurant will focus on falafel sandwiches featuring fresh local ingredients, housemade pita and scratch-made accouterments including pickles, tahini-based sauces and hummus. A selection of rice pilaf dishes will provide options for gluten-free diners, and freshly squeezed juices will also be a feature.

"We really value being able to service customers with all sorts of needs," says Buchholz. "It's something for which Odd Duck has become known, and something we plan to extend to the new restaurant."

As for the location, Buchholz says the space dictated the type of restaurant the partners chose to open.

"We always look at spaces and then determine what type of restaurant the neighborhood really needs," says Buchholz. "After establishing Odd Duck, we could have gone with something more akin to fine dining, but it's not really what the neighborhood – specifically that corner -- really needs. We think Bay View could use some more options for casual cuisine that is healthy and fast but still has exciting, delicious options for everyone."

Bachhuber, who has been researching Middle Eastern cuisine in preparation for the opening says that the menu is still in flux, but is likely to include items like zhoug, a green chile-based Middle Eastern hot sauce.  

Currently, the plan is for the restaurant to serve both lunch and dinner with the potential for both brunch and late night offerings. 

"We are toying with the idea of doing a late night shawarma offering," says Bachhuber. "Probably on Friday and Saturday nights, similar to the way Red Light Ramen works."

According to Buchholz, the restaurant is hoping for an opening in early May.

Watch OnMilwaukee for additional details as they develop. 

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.