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TJ Aliota's Will Reopen Under New Ownership

TJ's brother John Aliota is completely renovating the space with plans to open a new bar, Aliota's Pub and Grill, in June.

It's been four months since TJ Aliota's closed its doors, but now a new family member has taken the place over with plans to open a completely remodeled bar under a new name.

John Aliota, the new owner of the bar at 261 E Hampton Road in Milwaukee, has taken it "down to the studs" with the intent of completely remodeling and opening the pub and grill in June. The new bar, which will be called Aliota's Pub and Grill, will have new floors, walls, and furniture, all without the old smoky smell from the old bar.

The bar will have a slightly different look, with exposed ductwork on the ceiling, food and drink specials written on the chalkboard and nine large flat-screen televisions that provide a view for every seat in the bar and restaurant area.

Despite TJ Aliota's closing, Aliota said he is optimistic that his position close to the borders of Whitefish Bay, Shorewood, Milwaukee and Glendale is an ideal spot for a neighborhood pub.

"I still think there is such a demand for something innovative, something where people can come and watch sports and talk with each other," Aliota said. "There's still a demand for a good neighborhood bar at an affordable price."


TJ Says Goodbye

The reinvention of the old TJ Aliota's marks the end of a 31-year run for the neighborhood sports bar.

The owner and founder of the bar, Thomas J. Aliota, ran the bar with his son Thomas J. Aliota, Jr. until January, when the recession and "unforeseen circumstances" forced Thomas, Jr. and the business into bankruptcy.

Thomas, Jr. said he was humbled whenever someone compared his bar to "Cheers," because that's exactly how he saw it.

"I'm going to miss all the fine years I shared with our loyal customers," he said. "We had a lot of fun times."

Thomas, Jr. has worked in bars since he was 18, when his dad opened Aliota's Big Stein at 617 N. Plankington Avenue, which was later bought by the city through eminent domain to make way for Grand Avenue Mall. Aliota will not have a hand in his brother's new bar, and he plans to get out of the bar industry in general.

Thomas Aliota, Sr. still owns all of the spaces in the Hampton Avenue retail strip except Allegra Network.


A New Chapter

Aliota's has been remodeled four times over the past three decades, eventually transforming from a fine dining restaurant to a casual sports bar.

TJ Aliota, Jr. said the recession is hurting bars all across the Milwaukee area, and he found it hard to draw young people away from newer bars on Water Street.

"They’re dropping like flies all around us," he said. "It’s scary out there."

With the new bar, Alitoa's brother John will have help from that hard-to-reach younger generation. John's son David Aliota said he and his dad are keeping their focus on the customer, as they come up with ways to draw people in. Some strategies include a shuttle bus to Summerfest and Brewers games and sponsorship of local sports teams from Whitefish Bay, Nicolet and Shorewood.

"We're coming at this from the mind of a customer," David said. "We want everybody to have the kind of experience that we would like to have as a customer."

Mr. Wonderful May 04, 2012 at 09:37 PM
Hmmm, guess I never knew it was a sports bar. I never went in there but figured it was a dated restaurant with maybe a bar. It's close to my work and we'd like to have a place to grab a beer after. We usually go to 3 Lions or that area. Put some great beers on tab, have a decent food selection and modernize the interior and you could have something.
Ben Dover May 05, 2012 at 12:37 AM
Boom goes the dynamite! Thats what I'm talking about!
Absolutelyfabulous May 05, 2012 at 04:33 AM
Any updates to the exterior ie completely replacing the current signage vs just putting in a new face in the existing box? Don't understand the reasoning for the corrugated roofing, except that it may be totally maintenance free. Unfortunately, it adds nothing to the appeal. Any changes/improvements to the food & service? Just Google and read reviews. You can have the cheesiest place in an out of the way location, but if the food is good/great..people will come out of the woodwork to find you/spend their money on your product.
Tiredboys May 05, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Great customer service is a dying art and must be paramount to a local restaurant/bar success. To be a neighborhood establishment, unbeatable service and ave food will always be appreciated and supported by its community. Embrace the patrons and encourage them to put their stamp on the place. Business owner/mangers must meet and get feedback from their customers and they will receive support in return.
aaaaaa May 05, 2012 at 04:52 PM
can we please do something about the, errr, "terrace". That outside eating area is trashy looking. If they make a nice product like North STAR Bistro people would go there. I've lived in the Bay for 25 years and only set foot in Aliotos once. They could also take a cue from NSB (northSHORE Bistro about how to make a nice outside eating area even in a parking lot. (actually Pandls is sort of in the parking area, too, and that looks classy enough). Clearly changes need to be made. Right now it looks a little slummy, rundown and blighted.
Absolutelyfabulous May 05, 2012 at 06:35 PM
WFB51- Memories run short. Remember that North Star Bistro was given ~$150-175,000 by the good decision makers in Shorewood to pick up & move & buildout across the street. ($50,000 grant and $40 per sq ft allowance for buildout) In addition to a $100,000 10 yr loan @ 2%. They then proceeded buy out the Grafton Ale House location and take over the kitchen operations of the Milwaukee Ale House months after they opened in the Cornerstone. It's a lot easier to trick things out when the monies are flowing fast and mostly free. I thought about the outside "patio" area as well, but that as well as everything else is their call and their money. Hopefully, they figure things out and are able to address all of their concerns. Though, feel free to call your Village Trustees and see what they can do to funnel some taxpayer monies in the direction of Aliota's.
Bob McBride May 05, 2012 at 07:28 PM
As for the "beer garden" ("patio" or "terrace" or whatever), I'm guessing that since it's in the parking lot it needs to be something that can be put up and knocked down - not a permanent structure. Given that, there's probably a limitation on the degree to which it can be attractive. I suppose they could put it out back, where the lovely aroma of dumpsters and grease catchers wafts through the area. Or, as AF said, perhaps the Village would like to go the Shorewood route and assist them in rebuilding the entire complex (which I believe includes the DQ location as well as the other businesses in the strip itself - not sure about the Martinizing and realty company buildings) into a more attractive development.
Interesting May 05, 2012 at 08:38 PM
I understand you wanting Aliota's to have an attractive outdoor seating area but since the entire corner from the Clark gas Station to the dry Cleaner west to the Dairy Queen is in the City of Milwaukee I would hope that the Village would not give them any money for development
Bob McBride May 05, 2012 at 11:28 PM
If that's the case, then I'm with you on that. Even if they were in the Bay, the chance of them getting any assistance (particularly since they're not on Silver Spring) would have been slim to none. Personally, I don't have a problem with things as they are there. Given their neighbors on that corner (Harders, CVS and whatever's in the old Winkies building now), that strip doesn't look particularly out of place.
Absolutelyfabulous May 06, 2012 at 02:41 AM
If you want to get an idea of a Sports Bar done right and extremely successful on many levels; just head on over to Hooligans on North Ave/Farwell. Not the biggest footprint, though they have 2 levels, yet they do amazing business and have great bar food. Never needed to sit and watch 10 tv's while eating, though a great resource when I lived in the neighborhood to stop by and pick up a fast and very good take out.
someski, some don't May 07, 2012 at 11:48 AM
Two words...Three Lions.
A WFB Resident May 07, 2012 at 11:03 PM
"Though, feel free to call your Village Trustees and see what they can do to funnel some taxpayer monies in the direction of Aliota's." I believe Aliota's is in the City of Milwaukee, not Whitefish Bay.
A WFB Resident July 04, 2012 at 10:08 PM
any idea if this place is going to open?

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