By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Sep 22, 2021 at 10:01 AM Photography: Lori Fredrich

After more than a year’s hiatus, Skylight Music Theatre will kick off its 2021-2022 season at the Broadway Theater Center, 158 N. Broadway, on September 24 with "The Full Monty,” the uplifting Broadway smash hit that earned 10 Tony Awards nominations. 

But diners can also look forward to a new cadre of dishes at the Broadway Theater Center's Skylight Bar & Bistro, the second-floor restaurant which has become a popular destination for pre-theater shows and post-theater events.  

That’s because the Bistro will reopen under the purview of the folks at Sabrosa Cafe & Gallery, a business that was founded with a commitment to showcasing the arts.

Chef Francisco Sanchez of Sabrosa
Chef Francisco Sanchez of Sabrosa Cafe & Gallery
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An artful fit

It was 2017 when Sabrosa opened at 3216 S. Howell Ave. in Bay View. The debut of the cafe -- which knit together the worlds of classical music, art and food – marked the launch of a passion project for owners Chef Francisco Sanchez, former chef of Taqueria Azteca and owner of Sabrosa Sauces and his partner Ruben Piirainen, a local pianist, composer and former associate music director and education music director for Skylight Opera Theatre.

Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Sabrosa Cafe & Gallery has not only survived, but thrived, thanks to the support of loyal customers in the neighborhood and beyond. In fact, after a year of growth and expansion, Sanchez says the opportunity to embark on another project that supports the arts through food only made sense.

“We’ve put a lot of money into the cafe over the past year,” says Sanchez, “Including expanding our kitchen. So when Skylight approached us this summer and asked if we’d be interested in assuming the catering operations for the theater, the timing couldn’t be better.”

Skylight Music Theater is also elated to have Sabrosa on board to handle not only the Bistro operations, but also catering for theater events.

“We are delighted to welcome Sabrosa to Skylight and the Third Ward,” says Executive Director Jack R. Lemmon, “We know our audiences will appreciate their outstanding combination of great service, delicious food and passion for the arts.”

On the menu

Sanchez says the menu at the bistro will include a wide variety of moderately priced items, including small, shareable plates like Chevre Ahogado (goat cheese spread with warm marinara served with crostini, $10); maple roasted butternut squash and apple salad ($10); and a beef pot pie crowned with a buttermilk cheddar herb biscuit ($12).

Entrees will include options like Pollo al Grano, a lemon roasted chicken thigh served with rosemary and olive oil roasted red potatoes with creamy mustard seed and leek sauce ($16); Orecchiette Verde with jumbo shrimp and pepita pesto ($18); and Garlic & Ginger Glazed Sticky Pork featuring beer braised pork in a garlic-ginger-honey glaze and served with broccoli, wild rice and toasted sesame ($16).

In addition to pre-performance dinners, Sabrosa will also provide snacks during intermission as well as brunch prior to Sunday matinees. The matinee brunch menu will feature offerings like quiches, crepes, Sabrosa signature bakery items (including cinnamon rolls, scones), yogurt, granola and salads, along with mimosas and bloody marys.

Sanchez says the opportunity to serve meals to theater-goers and other curious diners in the Third Ward is a win for both the Sabrosa brand and the theater. 

“I’m super excited about this. It’s great exposure for us,” he says, noting that he’s always dreamed of having a venue in the area. “And it allows us to really bring something new and different to the Third Ward.”

Sabrosa will offer pre-theatre dining beginning two hours prior to both matinee and evening performances in the Cabot Theatre of the Broadway Theatre Center.

Reservations, parking and safety

Walk-ins for the Skylight Bar & Bistro will be accepted; but reservations are highly recommended. Guests can visit Sabrosa’s web site at  sabrosa.cafe to make reservations (guests should be sure to note that they are making a reservation for the Skylight location). 

Meter parking is available in the area surrounding the theater. But guests can also purchase $5 parking vouchers at the Broadway Theater Center Box Office for use in the Historic Third Ward parking garage at 212 N. Milwaukee St.

The Broadway Theatre Center requires proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test for entry. Masks are required for all attendees, regardless of vaccination status (except while eating and drinking). More information on safety protocols is available online.

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.