With two successful restaurants under his belt, Milwaukee Chef Joe Volpe has decided to add a bar and lounge to his resume. V Bar, 703 S. 2nd St., is now open. If the name V Bar sounds familiar, it's because Brady Street's Vucciria -- now Coco Bella -- dubbed itself V Bar twice a month a few years back.
Volpe, who owns the highly acclaimed Holiday House, 525 E. Menomonee St., and co-owns the Milwaukee classic, Tess, 2499 N. Bartlett Ave., with Mitchell Wakefield, jumped at the chance for a non-food venue as something to add to his repertoire while giving him a nightlife spot to mingle with patrons who want to catch him out of the kitchen.
In just six weeks, with the help of interior designer Libby Castro and Jeffrey Hojnacki of Ascend Design, V Bar was born. The cozy lounge opened earlier this week with a chocolate brown and marble white classy décor phasing out the former Intermezzo Martini and Wine Bar in Walker’s Point.
V Bar is small, with a capacity of just 60, but it is well-appointed and features free form, funky accessories from lighted marble façade footplates and bar backlights to white, almost ghostlike chandeliers and a well-lit pool table for those with a competitive itch.
Large windows flank South 2nd Street casting warm sunshine during the early evening hours, and candlelight at night makes V Bar quietly romantic. The bar itself is long and lean and constructed from a former bowling alley lane-- an initial visit here quickly had me envisioning rows of perfect martinis lined up along the wooden slats.
Manager James Benway, also of Holiday House, is at the helm of V-Bar, which will boast an impressive wine and martini list, and should mix well with the eclectic Walker’s Point neighborhood as either a cocktail stop before or after dinner at nearby Don Quijote or Crazy Water or as a quiet getaway from Steny’s or Cage.
Volpe’s collaborative nature shines through in that he plans to incorporate his clientele’s input as V Bar determines its music selections, the walls will be covered in artwork from local artists, and patrons will find locally owned Press cocktail soda as a mixer option.
In addition, some of the décor is still in process at V Bar; Volpe showed me the stenciling they plan to add to the decorative borders on the bar’s hardwood floors, and some blank walls are still begging for artwork from local artists, so patrons can truly watch as V Bar evolves.
But, Volpe and Benway were truly excited to open the doors, and with few loungy type establishments in the Walker’s Point neighborhood, the customers were rolling in nearly before they could get V Bar’s doors open.
V Bar is currently open for business seven days a week from 4 p.m. until bar closing time, and will have an official grand opening in the upcoming weeks.
Amy L. Schubert is a 15-year veteran of the hospitality industry and has worked in every aspect of bar and restaurant operations. A graduate of Marquette University (B.A.-Writing Intensive English, 1997) and UW-Milwaukee (M.A.-Rhetoric, Composition, and Professional Writing, 2001), Amy still occasionally moonlights as a guest bartender and she mixes a mean martini.
The restaurant business seems to be in Amy’s blood, and she prides herself in researching and experimenting with culinary combinations and cooking techniques in her own kitchen as well as in friends’ restaurants. Both she and her husband, Scott, are avid cooks and “wine heads,” and love to entertain friends, family and neighbors as frequently as possible.
Amy and Scott live with their boys, Alex and Nick, in Bay View, where they are all very active in the community. Amy finds great pleasure in sharing her knowledge and passions for food and writing in her contributions to OnMilwaukee.com.