A second location for Chicago’s Red June Cafe is slated to open later this spring at 773 N. Jefferson St. in the former East Town Chic Hair Boutique above Cora Beauty and Spa.
The cafe, which is named after the prized Southern baking apple, will offer a full assortment of coffee and espresso drinks, along with breakfast items, pastries and grab-and-go lunch items.
Kimberly Blackburn, who will operate the cafe with partner Hewerton Moreira, says the decision to open a cafe in Milwaukee was one born of both opportunity and serendipity.
"We were looking around in Chicago," says Blackburn, who purchased the Bucktown cafe five years ago, "but we really started to get beaten down with prices and the difficulty in negotiating for properties. So when this location became available in Milwaukee, I was excited."
Originally from Fennimore, Wisconsin, Blackburn moved to Chicago after returning to the States from Italy, where she lived for a number of years with her ex-husband. She says she’s excited to move back to her home state and plans to relocate to Milwaukee in the coming months.
As for the cafe, Blackburn says the interior of the Milwaukee location will be very industrial, playing off of elements like wood and metal and incorporating the cafe’s signature red accents.
"I love the black and white awning outside," she says. "So we’ll keep that. And I’m hoping we can paint the door red to give it some pop."
She says that, although the Downtown cafe will have a different customer demographic, she hopes she can replicate the feel of Chicago’s neighborhood cafe.
"It’s a great, friendly spot," she says. "Ninety percent of our customers are regulars, and everyone knows everyone by name – it’s a bit like ‘Cheers’ – and you don’t find that too often in the city."
Blackburn says she’ll be featuring coffee from Austrian roaster, Julius Meinl, a company she discovered and fell in love with during her travels to Europe. Meanwhile, the menu will be similar to that at the Chicago cafe, featuring breakfast and lunch items like avocado toast, oatmeal, wraps and breakfast sandwiches with the cafe’s signature steamed eggs.
"We don’t have a huge kitchen at the cafe," she says. "So we steam our eggs with the espresso machine wand. So they’re light and fluffy and really healthy."
She says she’ll also be looking for unique local items to serve at Red June.
"We know the owner of Cranky Al’s," she says. "So we’ll be bringing their doughnuts into the cafe and hopefully introducing people Downtown to something delicious from Wauwatosa. We’ll also be looking for other little hidden local gems to serve."
Hours for the cafe will depend on the amount of foot traffic the cafe gets once open, notes Blackburn, though she says she’d like to stay open later in the day to capture business from events like Jazz in the Park during the summer months.
If all goes well, Red June could open as soon as May.
Watch OnMilwaukee for additional details as they develop.
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.