Robertson Ace Hardware, a small business with deep local ties situated in an historic building in the Wauwatosa Village, is going out of business. The hardware store has been there for almost one-hundred years, so this is a remarkable commentary on the sorry state of the economy. The owner of the store and building will be looking to lease out the bottom floor in the coming months. (The top floor is made up of single-room apartments.) This transition is a golden opportunity for something big in Tosa. Hopefully, a worthy business will bring some fresh life to this special niche in Milwaukee. I am skeptical. Having the cash is one thing. Having the taste and style to do the right thing is another.
The Tosa Village is hit or miss. Aesthetically speaking, it is virtually all a hit. When it comes to the hot spots, some are good, and some are way overrated. Café Hollander is often packed but, in my view, is on the “way overrated” list. I’ve never eaten anything there that really blows me away. Herbs de Bland is the main ingredient for pretty much everything on the menu, and you might need a decade to get through a beer menu that is overly complex and pretentious. They believe that quantity translates into quality. Bartolatta’s food is excellent, and the atmosphere is elegant, but it’s a little pricey for what you get. Overall, La Reve is a hit. Their strengths are coffee and pastries. Piccola Pizzeria makes some great pizzas that remind me of my Roman days, but their service could improve significantly. Many teenagers work there, and it shows. Like, for sure. One-Way Café is an overlooked hit. It defines “going local” and deserves more support. Oro di Oliva is another hit, selling various flavors of high-quality olive oil. The Bread Company is a hit that is (sadly for it) located in an ugly, out-of-place, 1960s-era pavilion.
Anyway, the point here is to send out a plea for a worthy establishment to fill the void of Robertson Ace Hardware. Taste is key. Avoid the Hollander fallacy. Respect the integrity of the building. A Tenuta’s or Nessun Dorma-styled restaurant or café would be perfect, and I guarantee that it would bring big bucks to the owners. Heck, I’d even say it’s high time for a classy cigar lounge.