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Avlí Group to Open New Greek Restaurant in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE, WI – Avlí, a Chicago restaurant group specializing in regional Greek cuisine, plans to open a new Greek restaurant at 1818 N. Hubbard Street in Milwaukee’s Brewers Hill neighborhood, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (MJS) reported.

The group already has five restaurants in Chicago and this new one, set to open in the spring, will be the first outside of the Windy City, MJS reported, adding that “the two-story Brewers Hill restaurant with upper and lower patios” is the former location of View MKE.

“The setting and structure of the building are what sold the restaurant group on the site,” MJS reported.

“Avlí means ‘the courtyard,’ so all of our restaurants have an outdoor element,” Louie Alexakis, a founding partner of the group, told MJS, adding that “outdoor dining is very Greek,” observing “that diners in the pandemic have embraced eating on patios even more than previously.”

“The building’s two levels will allow the restaurant to hold private events, such as parties or wine dinners,” he told MJS, noting that “of course, we’re going to make it Mediterranean in its look and feel.”

“Alexakis, who formerly was the group’s culinary director, said he hopes the building’s wood-burning oven can be used to finish some dishes or bake some of the pita,” MJS reported, adding that “Avlí in its announcement for the new restaurant, says the restaurant group’s mission is ‘to bring more modern flavors to diners’ (palates) beyond the traditional Greek-American specialties,’ [and] it characterizes its menus as ‘regional, creative fare.’”

One of the dishes on the menu at Avli River North. (Photo: Avli River North Facebook)

“Diners sometimes think of Greek cuisine as meat heavy, but ‘that’s far from the truth,’” Alexakis told MJS, noting that “we eat a lot of seafood in Greece, and we eat a lot of vegetables.”

“The chef of each of the group’s restaurants has creative control of the menu,” Alexakis told MJS, pointing out that therefore “the menus all differ.”

“The Milwaukee menu likely will have some dishes in common, however, that are popular at the other restaurants,” MJS reported, adding that “those could include kataifi prawns, which are wrapped with shredded phyllo dough and served with spicy mayonnaise and herb oil, and saganaki.”

“The restaurant makes its spinach pies from scratch, down to the dough,” MJS reported. “We make it the way a household would in Greece,” Alexakis told MJS.

“The restaurants also use ingredients imported from Greece, such as feta, olives, capers and caper leaves,” MJS reported, noting that “the bar will feature Greek wines, and it will have spirits such as masticha of Chios and other liquors and liqueurs less widely known than ouzo… [which will] be incorporated into cocktails, as well.”

Alexakis also told MJS, “We will try to get Milwaukeeans to drink Greek beer.”

Besides in-person dining, takeout will also be available at the new restaurant.

“We want to be the place where, on a moment’s notice, [diners] say, ‘let’s go get a bite and have a drink,’” Alexakis told MJS.

“The group had looked in various cities for two years for its first expansion outside of metro Chicago,” Alexakis told MJS, adding that “I’ve gone many times to Milwaukee… I just think it’s a great city.”

Alexakis is the son of Greek immigrant parents who “operated hot dogs stands in parks for 54 years,” MJS reported, noting that “his mother finally retired at 81, but only because his father had been in a car crash, he said.”

“Alexakis’ partners in the restaurants are Chicago sportscaster Lou Canellis and investor William V. Glastris Jr.,” MJS reported.

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