Come on in: Downtown Waukesha welcomes new businesses
City encouraged by new activity, expects increased interest as weather warms


By CARA SPOTO - Freeman Staff

March 18, 2018

                                          

Owner Kathy Lucas gives Juan Salazar a haircut Friday afternoon at The Leather Strop Barber Shop, 807 Clinton St. Lucas, who opened the business in October, used wood salvaged from See

Kenny Yoo/Special to The Freeman

WAUKESHA — Warm weather is returning to Waukesha, bringing with it an uptick in foot traffic downtown.

If you’ve been away from downtown over the fall and winter months — or only spent your time darting furtively from your car to your desired destination — you may have missed many of the new businesses that have cropped up in and around the area.

Several new businesses have opened their doors in just the last few months, including Fisk Avenue Handmade Furnishings, 840 N. Grand Ave., and Dreams Life & Wellness Center, 732 Clinton St.

The downtown area also saw several business open this fall, including Treasure’s Trove gift shop, 329 W. Main St., The Crepe Cafe, located next door to the Meli Bar & Restaurant at 294 W. Main St., Pop’s Kettle Corn or “Pop’s on Broadway” at 260 W.

Broadway, and The Leather Strop Barber Shop, 807 Clinton St.

In May downtown visitors should also see 5 Points Brew & Sweets open up at 279 W. Main St., the site of the former Sloppy Joes and shortlived Taco Station.

The restaurant will serve beer and coffee, as well as ice cream, gourmet rice crispy treats, and locally made snack foods.

Gaby Bras Floral Designs, 439 W. Main St., is also expected to be open for appointments in the coming weeks. And a few blocks from downtown, 521 W. Wisconsin Ave., shoppers may want to check out the showroom of New York City transplant and fashion designer, Kit Hunzinger.

“Part of what makes Waukesha so unique is its businesses,” said Sally Kahlfeldt, small business program and special projects manager for the city.

Kahlfeldt added that as the weather warms, she fully expects more business owners to visit the city, looking for a new place to open shop.

“We’re really excited about this year. We can just feel the buzz of energy from the new businesses that are coming in,” Kahlfeldt said.

Changes

As the downtown welcomes new businesses, it also saw a few others shutter over the winter, including Blu.wing Fitness Boutique, 916 Clinton St., and Chappie’s on Broadway at 257 W. Broadway.

While businesses closing their doors is always unfortunate, what’s encouraging to Katie Bruner, executive director of The City of Waukesha Chamber of Commerce, is all the building and business owners that are invested in the spaces they own and occupy.

“If you look at some of the storefronts on South Street and Grand Avenue, there’s been a face lift. That’s exciting to see and I think will definitely attract businesses to the area,” Bruner said.

                                       

Megan Giersch stocks shelves at gourmet popcorn shop Pop’s on Broadway, 260 W. Broadway, Friday afternoon.

Kenny Yoo/Special to The Freeman

Berg Management, which manages about a third of the buildings downtown, recently finished installing windows at 268 South St. and 823 N. Grand Ave.

Located at street level on the first floor of the Prairieville Apartments, the retail spaces should be available soon and will feature shared restrooms, a shared kitchenette, and rear entry.

Catherine Huelsman, general manager at Berg Management, said she’s excited about the renovation of the old courthouse building, 101 W. Main St., which will soon be home to the banquet hall, Historic Courthouse 1893.

“They are going to open in August and already have weddings scheduled,” Huelsman said.

New Faces

On Friday, some of downtown’s newest entrepreneurs were busy plying their trade; selling popcorn and bringing back a bit of barbershop class to the area.

At The Leather Strop Barber Shop, owner Kathy Lucas was putting the finishing touches on Lucas Salazar’s haircut.

Lucas opened the business in October after operating Luke’s Sport n’ Cuts in the Milwaukee area for 10 years. She decided to change locations and open up a new establishment in Waukesha after visiting over the summer and seeing how the downtown area had transformed.

As for how she landed on the idea of running a rustic barber shop, the Sussex resident said “I just thought of it.”

Down on Broadway, Megan Giersch, who manages Pop’s on Broadway, said she has already seen a boost in traffic since the weather started to warm, and was eager for the return of Friday Night Live.

Giersch is also excited for the grand opening of 5 Points Brew & Sweets on May 5.

She and her boyfriend Mark Knudson, and another couple, joined forces to open the downtown eatery. Knudson has owned Pop’s Kettle Corn in Muskego for about a year and a half.

“We are going to have coffee and beer on tap, because we love beer. We don’t want to be a coffee shop. We don’t want to be a bar. We want to be right in between,” Giersch said of 5 Points. “Our grand opening is going to be the first day of the farmers market. There’s also an Art Crawl that day.”

cspoto@conleynet.com 262-513-2653