Welcome to Wauwatosa
Check out the latest developments, growing businesses and endless opportunities for entertainment in the Village.
“A welcoming and ideal environment in which to live, work and play,” is how Michelle Haider describes Wauwatosa. Haider, who is director of the Wauwatosa Village Business Improvement District says, “this neighborhood is an urban, walkable community of unique local shops, restaurants and beautiful parks.” New shops and business expansions – from a famed French restaurant’s cooking school to an artisan soap company – give new reasons to check out the Village if you haven’t been in a while. And if you’re worried about parking, don’t be. There are quite a few places – including a lot across from The Ruby Tap on Wauwatosa Avenue – offering free, convenient parking.
One business that has spearheaded much of the Village’s development is Outpost Natural Foods, fresh off a $1.2 million remodel and snug on State Street across from Hart Park. Locals love shopping for natural and organic groceries here, while saying hi to neighbors. To-go meals (folding in natural, organic, vegan and gluten-free options) are easy to pick up for an evening concert or dinner in.
“This neighborhood is a blend of historic buildings mixed with new development, offering many patios for outdoor dining, a farmers market on Saturday mornings in the warmer months, street festivals and concerts in the park,” says Haider. “The Village is home to many proud and invested businesses, property owners, residents and neighbors.”
Things to Do
Tosa Farmers Market
On Saturdays between 8 a.m. and noon (from May 30 to Oct. 17, except for July 4), farmers and crafters sell their wares at this local market (7720 Harwood Ave.) to the tune of live music. tosafarmersmarket.com
Root Series Concerts
These live performances (6 to 8 p.m. on June 18, July 16, Aug. 20 and Sept. 17) in Root Common Park, where Wauwatosa and Harwood Avenues meet, are the perfect way to celebrate summer’s long hours of sunlight. wauwatosavillage.org/rootseries
Tosa Tonight’s Free Concert Series
This wallet-friendly performance series is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. The concerts are at Hart Park’s Rotary Performance Pavilion most Wednesday nights between June and September. tosatonight.com
Village Harvest Fest
Celebrating the bounty of local apple and pumpkin crops, Village Harvest Fest livens up State Street (between Wauwatosa Avenue and Harwood Avenue) on Sept. 19, with a makers market, live music, kids activities and a ticketed, family-style harvest dinner in the middle of State Street. wauwatosavillage.org/harvestfest
Holiday Tree Lighting
Putting a sparkle into the downtown streetscape, this year’s tree lighting is on Dec. 4, in front of St. Bernard’s Church (across from Root Common Park), featuring a joyful kids’ choir, hot cocoa and a visit from Santa.
What’s New in The Village?
Wauwatosa has welcomed many new businesses in recent years to add to its already-impressive lineup.
Haven’t strolled in the Tosa Village in a while? While you’ll recognize the winding streets – uncharacteristic for the region, they add a European vibe – and many longtime retailers and eateries, you’ll also spot some newcomers.
Open since 2010, Be Spectacled (retailing eyeglass frames and providing eye exams) recently moved three doors down on Harwood Avenue. “It presented us with the opportunity to make significant local impact by rehabbing an historic building that we own and vesting our presence in Wauwatosa,” says Dr. Mark Veth. “Increasing the size of our space allows us to see more patients and hire more employees.”
From the same owners as C. Adam’s Bakery inside Milwaukee Public Market, Black Twig is a newcomer in the village. Co-owner Julia Block was drawn to the village’s sense of community. “We hope to enhance the Village with fun events, classes and unique treats like macaron ice-cream sandwiches and cake jars, as well as more classic items like cupcakes and cookies,” says Block.
Expanding from a 700-square-foot studio to a 3,200-square-foot space means Legacy Gym MKE flexed into stronger fitness offerings (pardon the pun). “With high ceilings, we were able to add a warped wall, as well as a 10-foot basketball hoop, climbing ropes, trapeze bars, monkey bars, rings and more,” says owner Brittany Holterman. Each 45-minute class (including yoga, TRX and ninja training; plus new kids classes) is led by a certified trainer.
Last year, Cream City Soap Co.’s two owners (Anita and Alex Hero) moved production of their small-batch bath-and-body products from Milwaukee to Wauwatosa (their home for 23 years). “We are thankful to be part of a community that encourages and supports small, individually owned businesses,” says Anita Hero. Products are vegan, natural and scented with essential oils.
Draft & Vessel is opening a second location in Wauwatosa this year in a newly constructed building next to Niemann’s Candies. Draft & Vessel sports an impressive tap list of beers and a vintage atmosphere in which to enjoy them.
Drop by Mooi, an enclave with an impressive gift card collection that also promotes self-care by selling items like sugar scrubs, candles, soaps and more. Mooi’s new shop – opened last year by Carolyn Goris – retails a wide array of items designed to add calm to your life.
Le Rêve Patisserie and Café has attracted diners to its Parisian-style bakery and restaurant since opening in 2008. Now Troquet, a few doors down Harwood Avenue and from the same owners, teaches how to make all of that at home, via 90-minute classes. Learn to make chocolate from Guittard Chocolate Co.’s pastry chef Josh Johnson, or perfect clafouti under the tutelage of Chicago pastry chef Sarah Holl.
Loup is a new casual dining concept (also offering take-out) from the Wisconsin Soup Co. owners that stays true to its mantra of “soup with a local twist,” folding in farm-sourced ingredients as well as products from many local vendors who have a stand at the Tosa Farmers Market.
Plan a Day in Tosa
However you want to spend your day, the Village can provide.
Whether you’re a resident or a tourist, the Village is packed with things to do. Before you know it, a few hours will have passed. Your arms may be full from hauling around shopping bags overflowing with cool finds, and your palate satisfied with sweet treats and savory delights.
Start your day at Outpost Natural Foods – in Tosa since 2000 – with a cup of coffee and a healthy-but-indulgent breakfast sandwich (like the Sunrise Sandwich, featuring Beeler’s nitrate-free bacon or Gimme Lean vegan sausage patty, plus an organic egg and cheddar, on an English muffin) from the Fork Café. Organic juices are as varied as the store’s produce section, from Ginger Wabbit to The Green Dream.
Even if you don’t need to order a bouquet of flowers, village resident Deb Fowler keeps The Flower Lady stocked with home décor, art and furnishings, along with curated vintage art. After Robertson Ace Hardware shuttered in 2013, Fowler moved her shop into the historic Dittmar-Robinson building.
If you’re craving an opportunity to entertain chez-vous, Oro Di Oliva retails a line of olive oils and vinegars (from traditional EVO to flavored options like blood orange) that are perfect for adding to your cooking routine or serving straight with slices of crusty bread.
Break for a leisurely lunch of curry coconut chicken or chipotle and tequila shrimp tacos, with guacamole prepared tableside at Jose’s Blue Sombrero. Combos make the decisions easy: choose from either two or three items from a set menu.
Work off those calories with a village stroll, taking in Wauwatosa Avenue United Methodist Church on Underwood Avenue, where community musicians and vocalists perform on select dates, including local Celtic-bluegrass-country acoustic duo Frogwater. And the nearby Harwood Veterinary Hospital provides loving care to residents’ felines and canines.
Niemann’s Candies’ almond butter toffee, crafted in the Village since 1919, is the perfect hostess gift to keep stocked at home. Pick up a box or two, or spring for caramels, the much-loved “fairy food” or seasonal chocolates. The shop ships all over the U.S., but locals are lucky to get a quicker fix.
You can also drop into Magpie Jewelry & Metals Studio where, for 20 years, Kristen Fogtman-Faust, Terese Millmann and Christopher Stephens have designed and crafted stunning jewelry, gifts and custom work. Next door is Heinsight Leather, a boutique open since 1997 and providing alterations of leather bags and jackets, as well as custom creations by owner Cindy Heinsight, from fur accessories to handbags to even jackets. Be sure to pet Maggie, the resident Labradoodle, before you leave.
“Local and traditional” – that’s the motto at The Village Cheese Shop on Underwood Avenue. Proprietor Sabina Magyar, brings an extensive knowledge of wine and cheese from her time spent in Budapest and Hungary. This European-style cheese shop specializes in its delicious cheeses and also offers hand-selected wines and fine meats.
With an eye on not only pampering but also therapy, Seva Therapeutic Massage expanded into a new space on Underwood Avenue last fall, which owner Leah Noel calls “bigger and brighter.” Massages – as well as cupping and craniosacral therapy – are by appointment and include hot-stone massages and foot reflexology (perfect for tired feet after a day of shopping).