By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published May 04, 2023 at 3:32 PM

The Sobelman’s location at 1601 W. Wells St. is in its final weeks of operation.

Owner Dave Sobelman confirmed today that he’ll be closing down the location on the Marquette University campus in the coming weeks.

“We’ll be open through May 21 for sure,” he says, noting that the restaurant could remain open through the end of May, but only if they have enough staff to effectively operate.

The closure is a bittersweet one for Sobelman, who signed a 10-year lease on the Wells Street building in 2011.

“It’s been 24 years that I’ve been in business, and we’ve been on the Marquette campus for 12,” he says. “We have a lot of love for the location at Marquette. For years, it was great. The original location and the Marquette location complemented one another. We sent customers there when we were too full at our original location. But those days have passed.”

He says staffing is one of the major issues that’s prompting the closure. But, he says there are additional factors as well.

“It’s not fun anymore,” he admits. “I’ve been working behind the grill more days than I can count and my wife has been taking bartending shifts. On top of everything, my wife has developed some serious health issues… We’re both exhausted.”

The situation isn’t new. In a conversation with Sobelman last November, he confessed that he would likely be closing down the Marquette location at the end of the school year. But he hadn’t yet made a final decision.

“Keeping three restaurants open through the COVID lockdowns was tough,” he said. “We relied on the University for traffic at the Wells Street location and that dwindled. At lunch, we were reliant on the Blood Center, the Law School and the Courthouse. And all of that fell away.

“Last night, there was a mens’ basketball game,” he added during the fall phone conversation. “But we couldn’t get enough employees to run the place. We had two people working the front of house and it wasn’t enough. There are 12,000 students at the University and we can’t seem to get more than three to work.”

Sobelman says that, since news began to circulate about the closing, there has been an outpouring of sympathy from customers. 

“Everybody feels sorry for me,” he says. “But, at a certain point, a person needs to relax, slow down and try to enjoy life again. And that’s what we’re hoping to do.”

For the next few weeks, the Marquette University Sobelman's will be open Wednesday through Friday from 4 to 9 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Both the original Sobelman’s location on St. Paul Avenue and the franchised location in Waukesha will remain open.

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

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.