By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Dec 09, 2021 at 9:01 AM

You are awesome, Wisconsin.

Thanks to your support in purchasing “The Wisconsin Restaurant Cookbook,” thoughtful support from sponsors and a generous $20K donation from Roundy’s Supermarkets, a total of 19 $5,000 grants are slated to be disseminated to restaurants from 14 different cities located across the State of Wisconsin.

The cookbooks, which were produced through a collaboration between Pick ‘n Save and Metro Market stores, WWBIC (Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation) and OnMilwaukee, were released in August, with the goal of raising at least $100,000 in grants to assist restaurants in bouncing back from the challenges of the pandemic. And, with your help, we were able to make that goal.

Every dollar matters

It takes little more than a brief conversation with any one of the grant recipients to understand just how big the impact of even a $5K grant really is.

"The pandemic has been very hard," says Selina Zheng of Kawa Japanese Restaurant, noting that their challenges have included balancing the rising costs of fresh fish, the inability to source their preferred sushi rice and staffing difficulties. "Since pricing has gone up for all of our products, the grant will help us to smooth things out so that we don't have to raise prices for our customers. We are also opening our third location [at the 3rd Street Market Hall] and the grant will help us to advertise and hire employees."

"I'm so proud to be in the community of Milwaukee," she adds. "There have been so many people who have helped us to remain in business."

Restaurants like Rice N Roll Bistro in Milwaukee have told us that they’ll be using the grant funds to pay for every day costs, including their lease, utilities and other day to day expenses that will help keep their doors open. 

“We are very grateful for this opportunity,” says Rice N Roll co-owner Tony Kora. “Since the pandemic, the business has been coping with higher expenses relating to food and inventory costs, supply shortage, less customer traffic, staff shortage, etc. The business has definitely been struggling. As a local restaurant, we have tried our best to get the operation going without shutting or laying off employment in order to keep our food available to customers and to keep our employees' job status. This definitely helps.”

Others have shared that receiving the grant has produced far more than financial benefits.

Among them is Dam Chicken, a restaurant which opened in Beaver Dam in April of 2020, just after the shutdown. Co-owner William Schwartz says that the grant funding couldn’t have come at a better time.

“COVID and everything else has made things so challenging," says Schwartz. "The restaurant industry is a tough one, even in the best times. But right now, between food costs, supply issues, staffing… and fear, it’s really been painful for so many of us. 

“But, something like this really helps us to remember that our community pulls together, even in the hardest of times. This grant has made our team feel like what they are doing is worthwhile and that people still care. It has really helped to bring hope back.”

Can you help us make it 20?

Currently, less than 350 cookbooks remain in stock at area Pick ‘n Save and Metro Market stores throughout the state. If they are sold before the holidays, we will have the honor of distributing one more $5,000 restaurant grant, bringing the total number of restaurant recipients to 20.

Cookbooks are just $9.99, and they make excellent last minute gifts for any cook or food lover on your list. Pair it up with a gift card from a local restaurant and you’ve increased your impact on our local restaurant scene exponentially.

Feeling generous? Individuals can also donate additional funds directly to the grant fund online. All donations will go toward an additional $5,000 restaurant grant.

You helped these 19 restaurants

Your cookbook purchases and direct donations have assisted us in offering grants to the following restaurants.

  1. Cafe Sonder, 305 E. Chicago Ave., Minocqua
  2. Ca’Lucchenzo, 6030 W. North Ave., Wauwatosa
  3. Chit Chaat, 550 State St., Racine
  4. Dam Chicken, 300 S. Spring St., Beaver Dam
  5. Gobblers Knob Supper Club, 101 N. Military Rd., Stockbridge
  6. Gus’ Deli, 813 S. 60th St., West Allis
  7. Hi Point Steakhouse, 6900 County Rd. HHH, Ridgeway
  8. Hue Vietnamese Restaurant, 2691 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., Milwaukee
  9. Kawa Japanese Restaurant,  325 W. Silver Spring Dr., Milwaukee
  10. Layman Brewing, 6001 W. Madison St, West Allis
  11. Luna's Mexican Restaurant, 4048 S. Packard Ave., St Francis
  12. Pizzeria Scotty, 9022 W. Oklahoma Ave., West Allis
  13. Rice N Roll Bistro, 1952 N. Farwell Ave., Milwaukee
  14. Skal Public House, 209 E Main St., Mount Horeb
  15. Taqwa’s Bakery & Restaurant, 4651 S. 27th St., Greenfield
  16. The Cozzy Corner, 111 N. Walnut St., Appleton
  17. Trouble and Sons Pizzeria, 133 E. Silver Spring Dr., Whitefish Bay
  18. Whisk Bakery & Coffee, 633 N. 8th St., Sheboygan
  19. Wild Roots Restaurant, 6807 W. Becher St., West Allis
  20. You can help us add another deserving restaurant's name to this list!
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.