Wrapping up months of simmering rumors, Mike Eitel, co-owner of the Milwaukee-based Diablos Rojos Restaurant Group, today told OnMilwaukee.com about the company's plans to open a second Cafe Hollander in the village of Wauwatosa.
Construction on the former "Zimmerman Design Group" building at 7707 N. Harwood Ave. will begin in April and the bar and restaurant is expected to open 10 weeks later.
Eitel added that the team has "been scouting heavily" in Madison, Milwaukee and Chicago and expects to open one more cafe in 2009.
"We are lucky to be in a position of growth during an incredibly ornery economic environment," Eitel says.
"We looked around in the summer of '07 and said: ‘Holy cow,' we are entering a recession!' We had to scrap plans for a six-figure executive chef and ideas like flying fresh seafood in daily or serving organic angus in favor of menus that literally everyone could relate to, crave, and afford. We really wanted to create places where the offerings were better than people would expect, but the experience of eating and drinking was what brought people back again and again."
Earlier this year, Diablos Rojos opened Cafe Centraal in Bay View and Fat Abbey Biercafe on Juneau and Water. The first Cafe Hollander opened on Downer Avenue in December 2006.
"It seems totally counter-intuitive to think high-priced, high-alcohol imported beer would work well in a recession, but we have seen a huge interest in the beers that at first, we found completely shocking," co-owner Eric Wagner says.
"Our customers love the quality of the beer and the ability to match it well with dining. It actually makes sense from a value-seeking customer's point of view--not only do they get an incredible beer served in its own signature glass, they get the alcohol content of a glass of wine."
Wagner says the cycling community helped spark the idea for a Tosa location.
"A lot of the guys on our cycling teams live either out in the Highlands or in Wauwatosa. They were incredibly persistent, and sometimes a little crazed in their demands that we brought beer, Belgium, and bicycling to the West Side. They would come to us every time a ‘for sale or lease' sign would go up anywhere west of 50th St."