Two Willy Street restaurateurs are joining forces to open a new cocktail bar which they hope will add to the array of popular bars in Madison.
Hastings Cameron of Forequarter and Josh Swentzel and Gilbert Altschul of Grampa’s Pizzeria plan to open the new cocktail bar this summer, Swentzel said. He said the bar has yet to be named, but it will located on Williamson Street next door to Grampa’s Pizzeria.
Swentzel said the inspiration for the bar came from the duo’s attachment to Willy Street and the history they have there. Swentzel said the new bar will be the perfect fit for the neighborhood, and he thinks it is something the neighborhood has been lacking. Willy Street is a tavern-based area, Swentzel said, and the new bar will have more of a “lounge feel.”
Dane County Supervisor John Hendrick, District 6, said it is the variety of local businesses that allows Willy Street to have the personality it does.
“We have room for a lot of different businesses on Willy Street, which is what gives it the special character it has,” Hendrick said. “I know I love Grampa’s Pizzeria so I’m looking forward to seeing what it will be like.”
Swentzel and Altschul have chosen a classic Victorian house for the new cocktail bar. Swentzel said the house is quaint, with the “loungey feel” the duo is aiming for. He said the idea is to create a small and intimate bar space, as opposed to something large and showy.
“We want it to be a place that is more about encouraging you to come in, get a drink and sit down and engage with friends or strangers,” Swentzel said. “It is going to have an atmosphere where you can feel comfortable to just meet people.”
The new bar will also provide a comfortable and relaxing space to accommodate patron overflow form Grampa’s, Swentzel said. He said Grampa’s typically has a line out of the door on weekends.
Swentzel said both he and Hastings have strong backgrounds in bar work and management from their own restaurant work.
Swentzel said he and the other owners plan to invite guest chefs such as Tory Miller of L’Etoile, Dan Fox of Heritage Tavern, Joey Dunscombe of the Weary Traveler and Mark Schieber of Forequarter to help design a rotating menu for their bar. He said the menu will consist of tapas-style eats and will focus on quality over quantity.
“We specialize in doing as much as possible from scratch,” Swentzel said. “We can also barrel or keg cocktails, meaning we will have cocktails on tap. We have carbonated versions of cocktails in small glass bottles as well. In addition we want to do the classic stuff right like Manhattans, martinis and daiquiris.”