By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Nov 13, 2023 at 7:02 PM

It’s been a challenging few years for restaurant owners. But few have felt these challenges more intimately than Chef Barkha Limbu Daily and Jesse Daily, owners of the cheel, 105 S. Main St., who found themselves watching helplessly as the Thiensville restaurant they’d poured seven years into building burned to the ground before their very eyes in November of 2020.

But, following three years of planning, extensive reconstruction and much support from loyal guests and the Thiensville community, the restaurant will be officially reopening to the public on Friday, Dec. 1. 

The cheel prior to the fire in November of 2020
The cheel prior to the fire in November of 2020

A much-anticipated return

When the cheel opened its doors on Saturday, July 19, 2014, it was the first of its kind in the Milwaukee Metro area. Built on inspiration from chef and owner Barkha Limbu Daily and her family’s recipes and cooking techniques, the restaurant combined the native flavors of the Himalayan region with traditional Midwestern fare, creating a restaurant that served not only a unique menu of Nepalese-inspired dishes, but an impressive cocktail program as well. 

In just a few more weeks, Barkha Limbu Daily, her husband Jesse Daily and their staff, will officially welcome diners back to their restaurant, a space that’s been reimagined over the course of nearly three years. 

Shan noodles
Shan noodles

On the menu, guests will find familiar dishes including "tidbits" like eggplant bharta and lamb or vegetable filled momo. Meanwhile, entrees will include offerings like tender, aromatic Bhedi Lamb Shank served with saffron rice and seasonal vegetables; and shan noodles featuring bean threads with vegetables and guest's choice of protein.

Guests can also enjoy the Nepali thali, a traditional Nepalese spread featuring Bandel Roganjosh, Poleko Kukhura, saffron basmati rice, a choice of dal, seasonal vegetables, Ghew, Teel and classic Aachar.

And yes, the bar will be serving beer, wine and a host of the familiar signature cocktails for which the cheel was always known.

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Pick up a copy of Lori Fredrich's new cookbook "Wisconsin Field to Fork: Farm Fresh Recipes from the Dairy State" which includes the recipe for the cheel's Kukhura Choyla, as well as the story of Roots & Stems, a farm in Mequon that supplies them with garlic.

Get a taste

Currently, the cheel is welcoming friends, family and supporters to join them during an extended soft opening, which will take place through the end of November. The soft opening will allow the restaurant to be fully prepared for its official grand reopening on Friday, Dec. 1. 

“We would like to thank our friends, family, employees, purveyors, and guests for helping this project come to fruition,” notes Limbu Daily, offering special thanks to New Land Enterprises, which has generously lent them chairs to use during their soft opening as they await the furniture ordered for the restaurant.

Reservations for the soft opening can be made online. Guests who attend are asked to visit the restaurant with an open mind and be prepared to provide thoughtful, constructive feedback for the staff as they work to grow acquainted with the new restaurant space. Be kind and tip well. 

Operating hours for the restaurant are Tuesday through Thursday from 4 to 9 p.m. (bar open until 10 p.m.) and Friday and Saturday from 4 to 10 p.m. (bar open until 11 p.m.)

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.