Tamela Greene and her wife, Anne Marie Arroyo, named
their new restaurant Moxie, but they could have easily called it
Serendipity, as the divine seems to have touched them at almost
every step of their path to restaurant entrepreneurship. The two
were both laid off — one right after the other — from their
corporate jobs at Harley-Davidson as part of 2015’s downsizing. But
instead of wallowing or wondering, the couple decided to pursue
their entrepreneurial dreams (Arroyo had 15 years of restaurant
experience before going corporate.) Here the duo explains the mojo
and magic of Moxie.
How did you
decide on a restaurant?
Greene: We were talking to friends, and we had
different ideas of the businesses we could start. Ultimately people
kept saying, “There aren’t enough good restaurants (in Whitefish
Bay).” So we did a survey of 40 people, but we got back 200
responses. All of that data ultimately went into this restaurant —
how it looks, how it feels. A few things stood out, including great
customer service. They also wanted a restaurant with a great bar and
a great wine list.
Arroyo: Customer experience is No. 1.
How did you
develop your restaurant idea?
Greene: We took a fact-finding trip to New York City
to see what was trending. The bar’s peninsula is one thing we saw.
We also had an amazing grilled romaine salad at another restaurant
(and that’s on Moxie’s menu).
Arroyo: We were in New York, and we hadn’t even
signed a lease when we got a Facebook message from chef Tony Evans’
wife: “Are you looking for a chef?” We knew of Tony (Evans was
formerly the executive chef at Saz’s Catering and several other
restaurants). He’s an unbelievable asset for us. He’s a gift.
Greene: Our children (Evans’ and theirs) attended
Highland Community Montessori School. We knew of the Evanses, but we
never dreamed that he’d be interested in working for us. He believed
in us every step of the way, and we make an amazing team.
How would you
describe Moxie’s cuisine?
Greene: Inspired American comfort food. We serve
lunch, dinner and brunch, with mimosas by the bottle. I love the
Tomahawk pork chop and the butternut squash ravioli.
Arroyo: The short rib Bolognese with rigatoni (is my
Some dishes — like the whitefish piedmont — have rice
flour, which means they are gluten-free. But that’s not marked on
Greene: I love that Tony comes to the table if you
have any dietary restrictions. He wants to ensure that our guests
are safe. We have a son who has allergies, so this is important to
Arroyo: We want to build relationships with our
Tell me about
that gorgeous painting on the wall.
Greene: That was a gift from Michael Stodola, who has
done all of our branding pro bono. It’s the (blue) hood of a 1972
Cutlass Supreme, and that is a portrait (of Diana Ross) from her
“Blue” album, which was recorded in 1972. If you look closely,
that’s not paint — it’s rust (chemically caused).
Arroyo: Diana Ross has moxie. She’s a powerful woman,
and she’s done so much.
is just one of the many people who are in your brain trust. Tell us
a bit more.
Greene: Michael Fritz has been our mentor. He’s
helped us believe we could do this. Also, Amber Miller of the
Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation, (and) Jim French,
Arroyo: People started coming out of the woodwork to
help us. The greatest advice is don’t be afraid to ask for help.
It’s been pretty magical. I’ve read about things like this
happening, but until now, I never experienced it happening. When we
were starting, Michael Stodola sent us this quote: “Be bold, and
mighty forces will come to your aid.”
What do you want
to tell others about Moxie?
Greene: We’ve put our hearts and passion into every
single decision about this.
Arroyo: We are