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North Ave. Renaissance Continues as Shepherd's Bar Is Sold

New owner coming in, with a plan in his head if not in his hand, to upgrade sports bar setting into something more like what BelAir Cantina has in mind.

Some East Tosa advocates have been saying for more than a year that the day was coming when business people would be climbing over one another to get into reviving North Avenue before commercial real estate prices skyrocket.

No one much listened until the popular Mojofuco Restaurants group announced it was buying the former Aqua Terra tropical fish store property at 68th and North to rehabilitate it as a trendy Cali-Mex restaurant called BelAir Cantina.

Now, Shepherd's Sports Bar, at 6715 W. North Ave., is being sold to another east side Milwaukee restaurant owner who is quickly buying in to the property with a business plan that's down the road and, so far, all in his head.

Martin Beadoin, owner of the Red Dot, 2498 N. Bartlett Ave. on Milwaukee's east side, said that he will continue to operate what is now Shepherd's as is, but under the new name Sherbrook, until his long-range plan is developed.

One thing is clear: He's got an inspiration.

"There's going to be some kitchen work, and we'll probably take out all the pool tables," Beaudoin said. "We're leaning more toward restaurant, but we'll definitely still have a bar in there.

"It'll be an extensive restoration – similar to what the BelAir Cantina is going to do, but a different business model."

Beaudoin said the property sale, which closes Dec. 19, includes a neighboring laundry, and he intends to incorporate it into an expanded Sherbrook restaurant and tavern.

Beaudoin had come before the city's Legislation, Licensing and Communication Committee to request the transfer of Shepherd's liquor license to him under the name Tosa Foods LLC, which passed unanimously.

The beginning of a tidal wave of business?

Ald. Bobby Pantuso of the neighboring 5th District on the north side of The Avenue, as some are starting to call it, has been preaching like a prophet that commercial values would be going up and those who got in early would be winners.

"People are looking at BelAir and saying, 'What do they know that I don't know,'" Pantuso said. "Once they figure it out, that this is the new east side, no one is going to want to be last. It's going to be a tsunami."

Ald. Joel Tilleson, also of the 5th District, has said that he's been contacted by plenty of people wanting to know what was going on with North Avenue – and what properties were available.

Whether Beaudoin will win remains to be seen, but the Shepherd's and Wauwatosa Laundry properties represent a substantial chunk of a block in the heart of the renaissanance.

The upcoming BelAir Cantina is less than a block away, the newly refurbished Rosebud Cinema is one door beyond that, and across the street from them is the new Parisian-inspired Rocket Baby Bakery.

A bit farther to the west is pioneer Cranky Al's at 69th and North, and just beyond it is Il Mito, also a North Avenue pioneer and the first fine dining restaurant to take hold since Jake's left.

The trend continues, especially in the 7200 block of North, where Fattoni's set up on the north side of the street, taking over from Venturi's without a hitch, and where North Avenue Grill and Signature Sweets have opened this year.

Lady in Red, an upscale "gently used" resale shop will open Dec. 1 in that block.

Well to the east of the soon-to-be Sherbrook is Juniper 61, and of course no one should forget that the big Blockbuster property didn't stay shuttered long before it reopened as a new O'Reilly's Auto Parts store – not everyone's first choice, but a solid, long-term business that has already been accepted, along with its 15-year lease.

All in all, long-term vacancies are disappearing and any vacancies are being snapped up in East Tosa.

Shepherd's-Sherbrook, like Blockbuster-O'Reilly's, is the latest example of a non-vacancy – a property turning over, overnight, and reopening as something potentially better.

marlene mitton November 15, 2012 at 12:02 AM
That sounds good for the north ave folks but how about the corner of wauwatosa and clarke street. There sits an eyesore that was once a going business because of the busy corner that it is on. I'm sure that would be profitable for some other business. Right now it is a poor advertisement for Wauwatosa. Take a look at it. There was a fire there, tarp blowing all over. Give us our neighborhood back again.
jbw November 15, 2012 at 12:16 AM
I'm partial to Chinese Pagoda - the oldest Chinese restaurant in the region and one of few businesses in the area that isn't new. They don't seem to do a great job of self-promotion, since I've never seen anyone mention them anywhere except for myself.
Jim Price November 15, 2012 at 02:38 AM
marlene, you refer to the infamous dry cleaning building. I have been there, I've got pictures of it, with the fire damage and all. Unfortunately, it's a Superfund site, so contaminated with chemicals from when it was in business that nobody wants it. But the city did get remediation funds in a federal grant – still has them. But the owner won't give up the property even though he can't sell it. The city has been trying for several years to take it away from him, but that's hard to do. Nobody in their right mind would buy it as is.
Random Blog Commenter November 15, 2012 at 08:38 PM
I enjoy the Chinese Pagoda also, as well as long-time neighborhood places like Ted's and Walters. As much as the new places are fun, I also enjoy the old school places that keep it real and are easy on the pocketbook. These folks carried North Ave for years and deserve our continued business.
Jon Anne November 15, 2012 at 11:37 PM
Maybe I'll see you at Walter's some time - I practically have my own stool. ;-) And that's what makes Walter's great: they make everyone feel welcome. Plus they have an awesome staff and their bar food is classic and always tasty. LOVE their BLTs.

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