By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Nov 16, 2016 at 11:01 AM

The Chancery has been a mainstay on State Street in the Village of Wauwatosa since 1978. And thanks to a renewed vision on the part of the DeRosa Corporation, along with a partnership between Arc-Int Architecture and the Tredo Group, the restaurant is getting a major overhaul.

As part of the revamp, the restaurant will transition from a Chancery to Jose’s Blue Sombrero, another concept in the DeRosa portfolio.

"This restaurant has been a blessing to our company," said Joe DeRosa, owner, chairman and CEO of the DeRosa Corporation. "We are thankful to our many loyal customers who have visited our restaurants over the years and continue to support us. The current concept at this location has served the community for 38 years and the time has come for something new. A Jose’s Blue Sombrero is just what is needed to complement the Village of Wauwatosa’s current renovation project. We are looking forward to bringing ‘unexpected Mexican’ to Wauwatosa."

A new look and feel

Like each of the DeRosa restaurant concepts, Jose’s Blue Sombrero Tosa will sport its own unique look in keeping with its location in the Tosa Village, while offering a menu that boasts the use of local ingredients, authentic flavors from several regions of Mexico and a Wisconsin twist. Signature offerings include table-side guacamole, the El Tornado cocktail (featuring layers of frozen margarita and sangria) and the Monday Taco Boom. Customers in Tosa will also be able to enjoy occasional live Mariachi while dining.

Improvements to the building itself dovetail with plans to improve infrastructure and streetscaping along State Street from 68th Street to Church Street, furthering goals to activate the street for pedestrian traffic while also creating more efficient traffic flow.

Although final designs for Jose’s Blue Sombrero have not yet been fully approved by the Village of Wauwatosa, there are numerous goals the project aims to achieve.

The project’s designer is Tom Joy, whose experience includes work with Rinka Chung on projects like Fuel in Walker’s, Cafe Hollander in Brookfield and Mequon, BelAir at Corners of Brookfield and Good City Brewing. He says a major goal for the project is to create a big statement with the revamped design while creating a more pedestrian-friendly, livable urban space.

"The urban impact, the layering… all of this will really impact the entire Village area as an urban destination," notes partner architect Ed Haydin of Arc-Int.

Renderings show a significantly updated restaurant space featuring both a street level patio and second floor balcony, which opens to the outdoors thanks to glass French doors. Operable garage doors on the lower level will allow for patio access and open-air dining on clement days.

Plans also include a revamp of the interior. The restaurant’s bar will be relocated to the front of the space, giving it more of a street presence and offering a view of the action from the street. The back wall of the restaurant will be opened up to provide access to the river. And second floor offices will also be connected to the ground floor, providing access to the restaurant space.

Additional plans include festoon lights, which will be mounted across State Street in the Village proper, lending old school charm and intimacy to the look and feel of the street.

Renovation is expected to begin in January, with expected completion by June. To accommodate the transition, the Chancery will be closed beginning the evening of Saturday, Jan. 14. During the closure, DeRosa Corporation has offered all current employees the opportunity to transfer to one of its other restaurant locations.

"We invite our customers to visit us at the Wauwatosa location through Jan. 14," says DeRosa. "We are looking forward to continuing to develop our current restaurant concepts and menus as well as explore future development opportunities. DeRosa Restaurants have been among the first to feature successful innovations since 1972, and that’s just what we’re going to continue doing."

DeRosa Corporation owns and operates eight restaurants in southeastern Wisconsin, including four Chancery locations (Wauwatosa, Mequon, Pleasant Prairie and Waukesha), three Jose’s Blue Sombreros (Racine, Brookfield and Fox Point) and Parkside 23 in Brookfield, a farm-to-table restaurant which grows and serves specialty produce from its 10,000-square foot farm.

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.