Any marketing or advertising professional would say, Venturi's Market, 7212 W. North Ave., should not have the dominating presence that it does in Wauwatosa.
Keeping business simple without a Web site, advertising, or brand infused packaging, Venturi's has successfully relied on word of mouth endorsements to flourish throughout their Wauwatosa neighborhood. And, a neighborhood establishment is precisely what they have come to be.
"This neighborhood has really embraced us and we're not trying to be more than that. Others move and come back to say we should expand here or there; we say, you should move back," says Owner Sue Venturi.
Opening 12 years ago and expanding into a second storefront three years later, Venturi's is tucked away on the 7200 block of W. North Avenue, sandwiched by Snap Fitness and Chinese Pagoda restaurant. The café and deli originally opened with Italian flavors in mind but over the years, Owners Pete and Sue Venturi expanded to carry fresh meats and cheeses, specialty canned and packaged goods along with made-from scratch deli items of all sorts.
"We tried the Italian deli thing but there wasn't a huge draw. People in this area really just want a small neighborhood deli where they can pick up a pound of ham or fresh rolls," Venturi says.
But ham and rolls is far from the only thing Venturi's offers. Part deli, part café, everything is made in-house and nothing is processed or pre-cooked. And unlike some of their competitors, Venturi proudly acknowledges their drive to keep items affordable for area employees to stop in for lunch or families to pick up dinner.
"Our carry out dinners are sold by the pound. That way, people can get exactly how much they need for however many they're serving. Every night we have something hot and homemade ready to go and it averages out to about $4-5 a serving," Venturi says.
In addition to their in-store café and deli case, nearly half the business at Venturi's Market is comprised of catering for small parties, business luncheons, and special events.
"We really needed to do both sides of the business. We say that about businesses on North Avenue, you've really got to have more to draw from in order to stay afloat," Venturi says.
But, Venturi's Market isn't shy of things to draw from. Instead of a fixed catering menu, they work with customers to find out what they need and want for an event and cook or bake based around individualized concepts.
"We don't have a set menu. We want someone to work with us because they like us and they like our food. As a result, we get customers who really like food, care about value, and want us as opposed to buffet #2 on a menu," Venturi says.
And the catering menu isn't the only thing that changes with made-to-order items. Aside from staple signature items like their famous chicken salad, homemade roast beef, and hot ham and rolls on Sunday, Venturi's deli case rotates seasonal salads, daily soups, and fresh specials of the day. In the spring and summer, they serve a salad of the day and in the fall and winter, a chili of the day.
When planning ahead, customers take away soups, entrees, frozen pizzas, appetizers, and dips all made from scratch, frozen, and ready for parties of two or 20.
"It's not fancy fare; we're making chuck roast that your mom would've made for you. We prepare and carry items really meant to extend your own cooking. Whether it's a sauce or a dip, we love to show people how easily they can create something a little different. At the same time, we have a full home cooked meal hot and ready to serve for nights when cooking just isn't an option," Venturi says.
OnMilwaukee.com staff writer Maureen Post grew up in Wauwatosa. A lover of international and urban culture, Maureen received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
After living on the east side of Madison for several years, Maureen returned to Milwaukee in 2006.
After a brief stint of travel, Maureen joined OnMilwaukee.com as the city’s oldest intern and has been hooked ever since. Combining her three key infatuations, Milwaukee’s great music, incredible food and inspiring art (and yes, in that order), Maureen’s job just about fits her perfectly.
Residing in Bay View, Maureen vehemently believes the city can become fresh and new with a simple move across town.