Zak's Cafe prepares for Walker's Point diners, coffee drinkers
When Doug Konzak graduated with his executive MBA from Marquette University in 2007, he knew he wanted to try his hand at running a business. For more than 20 years, he worked in the Walker's Point area and decided, because he was such a fan of the neighborhood, to open a cafe.
"This is a new adventure for me," says Konzak. "And I'm really excited about it."
He hopes Zak's Cafe -- the name, of course, comes from the last three letters of his last name -- will open at the end of February.
"It depends on the build-out process," he says.
The building, located at 231 S. 2nd St., is a multi-story, cream city brick structure. The cafe is in the large ground floor space that accommodates up to 100 diners and features a loft area. High ceilings and hardwood floors will complete the airy, old-meets-new feel.
Zak's will offer early morning Alterra coffee along with grab-and-go menu items like scones and muffins and hot, sit-down breakfasts including a variety of egg dishes. Eventually, the bakery items will be made in-house, but to get started, Konzak says he will hire a Walker's Point-based baker to help him out.
Lunches will include homemade sandwiches and wraps. A delivery service will be available. Konzak says Zak's will also offer nightly dinner specials as well as weekend brunches.
"We're still working on our dinner menu," says Konzak. "But it will focus on appetizers like mini sliders, chicken wings, pizzas. We're developing parts of the menu as we go."
Konzak is working on the recipes with chef Marta Monti, who graduated from the Seattle Culinary Academy and worked in numerous Seattle-based restaurants.
"We're not going to be high end, but everything will be fresh and homemade," he says.
Konzak says the atmosphere will be "trendy" and "something for the younger generations." He has his eye on the condos in the area and what might appeal to the people living in them.
"We're really hoping to open at the end of February. We're completely retro-fitting the building for our restaurant, including building a full-service kitchen in the basement and a refinished wood floor," he says.
Although Konzak is new to the restaurant business, he says his love for good food and cooking has always been more than a hobby.
"My passion for authentic, healthy ingredients originated from growing up and working on the family grain farm in North Dakota where most of our family meals included home grown, home raised ingredients," he says.
Harley man, if you check the ownership of the redeveloped buildings that house Timothy J Kitchen and Bath and Zak's you will find that they are co-owned by Nelson and Gensch. It just happens to be that Gensch always seems to put herself in the limelight. Maybe this blog should stop getting personal and serve instead as a welcome to the new neighbors. Good luck with your building Carl Templer!!
The deli will be a good addition to the street in that block. The real momentum is from Gensch, she has had a vision of the street and communicated it well; but there are others on the street -- both some who have been there for a while and those who are newer. There are two guys who have invested heavily as well. They have brought residential tenants and well as commercial tenants to the street. It will be a good outcome. Hope the deli does well. Could be a tough road for a bit, though. All the best to all who have really invested in the block.
As a preservationist in Milwaukee, Mr Jakubovich with the City of Milwaukee should deserve facade design credit for 221 and 231 S. 2nd Street!! It is super to see these building revitalized!! Good Luck to Zak...but who is Mei-Lynn??
I loved the storefront that Mei-Lyn designed for the building next door to Zak's (houses Timothy J store). Zak's new building and business is a breath of fresh air to this neighborhood. C'est la vie to c'est la vie!
Congrats and kudos to the other owner and developer of those beautiful buildings on 2nd street. Mei-Lyn Nelson has also been an integral part of these projects and is often gone unnoticed. We look forward to Zaks Cafe and other businesses that are joining in on the revitalization of the 2nd street corridor.
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