For 13 years, Valentine Coffee Roasters has been delivering on both unwavering hospitality and excellent coffee at their cafes in Washington Heights and Oak Creek. But beginning today, the local coffee roaster is officially unveiling their newest cafe at 189 N. Milwaukee St. in the heart of the Historic Third Ward.
“We’re grateful for the opportunity to open here,” notes co-owner Joe Gilsdorf, crediting building owner Greg Uhen for inviting them to take over operations at the Milwaukee Street location. “Bella Caffe served the community for 20 years, and we aspire to fill their shoes respectfully.”
The cafe, which was announced last spring, presents with clean modern lines in a palette of soothing grey, blue and white, along with art featuring coffee growers with which they maintain relationships in Brazil.
Seating is available at both bar top seating and low-top tables with banquette-style seating along the eastern windows, which will soon be augmented with shelving and greenery to create a warmer, welcoming vibe.
Not just a cafe
Valentine owners, Robb Kashevarof and Gilsdorf, are more than seasoned in the restaurant industry. Gildsdorf, who worked in restaurants since the age of 14, was a co-owner of Nessun Dorma through 2008. And Kashevarof spent 20 years in the industry working for local restaurants including Ristorante Bartolotta as well as venues in England, Hawaii and Oregon.
The two met while working in the wine industry and bonded over their love for coffee, wine and food. As a result, their approach to coffee reflects not only a deep knowledge of the coffee landscape, but a commitment to creating balanced flavor profiles extracted from high quality coffee beans acquired through responsible, transparent sourcing practices.
Their approach to cafe operations also reflects their backgrounds, incorporating a thoughtfully curated selection of breakfast items, as well as soups, salads and sandwiches, all of which are executed with the same commitment to quality as their coffee.
On the Third Ward menu, guests will find staples like yogurt parfaits, quiche Loraine (with bacon, caramelized onions and Swiss cheese), breakfast burritos (chorizo, egg, cheddar and sweet potato hash) and egg sandwiches along with sweet and savory hand pies, muffins, cookies and scones.
Guests can also pick up seasonal soups (including chicken, chickpea and kale) and salads, including roasted delicata squash with arugula, red onion, goat cheese and honey dijon vinaigrette, along with sandwiches and wraps like the Valentine BLT with bacon, herbed cheese spread, spicy tomato jam and arugula; a turkey avocado club; curry chicken salad wraps and vegetable wraps with housemade hummus, avocado, quinoa, arugula, tomato, onions and cucumber. Menu items vary in price, but range between $5.50 and $11.50.
Cafe customers will also find a curated selection of beer and wine (by the glass or bottle) and (ultimately) coffee cocktails, which will be available for the cafe's happy hour.
“We do this because it’s where our experiences come from,” says Gilsdorf. “And offering complementary items helps us to put our coffee into context”
Offering high quality scratch-made items also assists them in serving the needs of their customers, whether they be first time visitors to the city or longtime residents.
Kashevarof says that guests can also expect patio seating along both the Milwaukee and Chicago Street sides of the building as the weather warms.
“For years people have wanted us to establish a cafe in Milwaukee,” he adds, noting that they’ve been waiting for the right location to come their way.
“Ultimately,” he says, “We’re really excited to have landed here in the Third Ward.”
Valentine’s Third Ward cafe will debut with hours Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Once full staffing is achieved, hours will be extended to accommodate daily happy hour and hours until 6:30 or 7 p.m.
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.