By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Apr 13, 2022 at 10:02 AM

Things are heating up on the Northern end of Bay View, and soon there will be a brand new spot to grab your morning cup of coffee, a wide variety of pastries, plus breakfast and lunch.

That’s because Chef Francisco Sanchez and Ruben Piirainen, owners of Sabrosa Cafe & Gallery, are branching out with a second restaurant location at 2121 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

The corner space, which formerly housed Subway, Fuji Poke and most recently Taco Stop MKE, occupies 1800 square feet of the mixed use building on the corner of Kinnickinnic and Becher. 

And Sanchez and Piirainen plan to put it to good use.

What is Sisu Cafe?

Sisu Cafe is the name of the new concept, which pays homage to both Piirainen’s Finnish background and the tenacity it requires to operate a restaurant in the modern world.

“Sisu is a word that means ‘extraordinary, undaunted determination,’” says Sanchez. “And we thought: ‘How appropriate for the times.’ Despite everything we’ve been through, we’ve made it through. We've built our business, and it's better than ever."

The hope is that they can bring the same positive energy to a second cafe location.

Sanchez says the restaurant is a turn-key operation, so the conversion into Sisu Cafe will consist primarily of cosmetic upgrades. In fact, he suspects the cafe will be ready to welcome its first customers by late May or early June.

‘We’re going to embrace the modern look of the building,” he says. “We’re envisioning a bright, open, airy space. But we also want to make a statement with it.  We want to give that space the same energy as the area around it. It’s so close to Zillman Park and the Kinetic building… and once those spaces are fully developed, that’s going to be a very exciting corner.” 

Even now, Sanchez says, over 9,000 cars pass through the intersection at Becher and Kinnickinnic on a daily basis. And he hopes they can capture some of the morning traffic by offering passersby a place to stop for coffee, fresh juices and a variety of breakfast and lunch options.

Sanchez says the focus will be on bakery, breads and coffee cakes, along with grab and go items like focaccia, empanadas and pasties. But he says the cafe will also feature a menu of made to order breakfast and lunch items.

“We’ll have first come, first serve seating during the week,” he says, noting that the cafe will feature a wrap-around patio during the summer months.. “But Sundays will be special. On Sundays we’ll feature a seated brunch where people can sit back, relax and enjoy a leisurely full service meal.”

Sanchez says the cafe will also be available as a rental space for private parties during the evening hours. Even better, the new cafe has access to the adjacent parking lot, which accommodates 70 vehicles, so both regular customers and guests at events will have plenty of options for easy parking.

Sisu Cafe will offer breakfast and lunch service seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., plus brunch on Sundays.

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.