By Kristine Hillmer
Whether drawing a small group around a dinner table or hundreds of neighbors to Sherman Park, food brings people together. That was the idea behind the Second Annual Sherman Park Revival Celebration put on by the Milwaukee Kitchen Cabinet in conjunction with Milwaukee Public Schools and local sponsors. Two years after the devastating riots that shattered this community, it is clear that the rebuilding process has been successful. All of the businesses affected either have reopened or are on the path to reopen soon.
Area restaurateurs turned out on Saturday to highlight their support for this community’s strength, resilience, and character. The aromas alone were cause for celebration, as SURG Restaurants, Point Burger Bar, Funky Fresh Egg Rolls, The Juice Kitchen, and ProStart dished out scrumptious fare.
For the ProStart booth, it was a chance to show off the exceptional results of its culinary management partnerships between Wisconsin high schools and the National Restaurant Association. The program gives students the chance to explore careers in the hospitality industry and acquire the skills they need to succeed.
Of course, “Back to School” time was also in the air. Milwaukee Public Schools Interim Superintendent Dr. Keith P. Posley had a few words of encouragement for the young people present. What’s more, students who signed up received backpacks filled with school supplies to help launch a successful academic year. Also in the giveaway, students received Milwaukee Bucks memorabilia, items from Kohls, and Milwaukee Brewers tickets.
Games, concessions, and kid-focused activities sponsored by Phoenix Investors, VISIT Milwaukee, and the Gruber Law Offices ensured the event centered on family fun, even as it relayed an important message about how this community is rebounding. A theme of hope emerged in remarks by Mayor Tom Barrett, State Senator LaTonya Johnson, and State Representative Evan Goyke. Milwaukee Public School Interim Superintendent, Dr. Keith Posley and Aldermen Khalif Rainey also addressed the crowd with an outline of their plans for the future.
These leaders have been indispensable to the hospitality industry’s efforts to expand in Sherman Park. Each understands that creating great meals and experiences is not a task one can ship overseas. The food and beverage sector is inherently homegrown and they’ve helped establish the right environment for us to grow and hire. We are proud to be a reliable source of quality local jobs and for our tables, lunch counters, benches, and bars to host open dialogue and foster a sense of community among neighbors.
Today, over 12,000 eating and drinking establishments employ more than 280,000 Wisconsinites statewide, accounting for almost one in 10 jobs. And, importantly, this industry is known for having room for everyone—including immigrants bringing new tastes to America, entry-level workers getting their start on the ladder up, and entrepreneurs investing in new concepts.
The Milwaukee Kitchen Cabinet, an initiative by the Wisconsin Restaurant Association, benefits from the active involvement of over 150 diverse, local restaurateurs. By taking the time to give back, they’re carrying forward the hospitality mission of bringing food, conviviality, and a sense of unity to those around them.
After all, ours is a service industry—here first to serve our communities. The Wisconsin Restaurant Association appreciates every Sherman Park resident who joined the festivities to support your local restaurants. Rest assured, we will continue supporting—and serving—you.