After sitting vacant for nearly five years, a dual-concept bar and restaurant is slated to open in the building at 2856 N. Oakland Ave.
Baccara is the name of the bar end of the business, which will operate in conjunction with a new Italian concept, Cafe Terraza. Both concepts could open as soon as mid-to-late June.
Built in 1910, the Upper East Side building was most recently home to Monster Pizza (2017) and The Black Rose Irish Pub (2009). But it has a long history as a home to restaurants including SoLo Pizza (2010), Oakland Trattoria (1985) and – for a very long stretch – Kalt’s Restaurant, an iconic spot decorated with breweriana and caricatures of stars who’d performed at the J. Pellman Theater next door. Notably, Chef Sanford D’Amato (who later founded Sanford) worked his first industry job at Kalt’s making sandwiches and breading fish for their Friday night fish fry.
Behind the project is Donald ("Donnie") Dries, owner of Dries Painting & Restoration, who was initially hired by the building owner, Christos Karampelas, to restore the exterior of the building.
“Along the way, I fell in love with it,” says Dries. “The interior was intact and I had this crazy idea that I’d like to bring it to life.” To do so, Dries partnered with a friend and service industry veteran to design the concepts for the spaces.
“There are no longer any full-service restaurants in this area,” notes Dries. “So we wanted to put together a concept that allowed people to come in, sit down and enjoy themselves.”
In turn, they came up with the concept for Cafe Terraza, an Italian restaurant which will offer a variety of appetizers, a salad bar, sandwiches, pastas and pizza made with the existing wood-fired oven inside the building.
“We’ll also serve a great Cuban sandwich,” says Dries, noting that he’s originally from Florida, so he’s eaten his share of some of the best.
The restaurant will also offer a late night menu after 10 p.m.
On the bar side, guests can enjoy cocktails, beer and wine (along with fare from Cafe Terraza) at Baccara, a name which is synonymous with “Black Rose.”
While every part of the building has gotten a refresh, including new coats of paint, Dries says they left many elements of The Black Rose intact. “She’s just got a bit of a new dress on,” he says.
Dries says that the bar will also have a VIP room where guests can take part in private dining, including the ability to order off-menu items.
Stay tuned for more details on the concepts in the coming weeks.
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.