Whitefish Bay - The story behind the name of Whitefish Bay's newest restaurant is essentially the story of its owners, Tamela Greene and Anne Marie Arroyo.
The married couple lives with their two boys, ages 10 and 13, in Whitefish Bay. Their lives were upended last December when they were both laid off due to a mass layoff at Harley-Davidson. They took some time to reflect on their next chapter, and decided that Whitefish Bay — their place of residence for the last four years — would benefit from another restaurant option on Silver Spring Drive.
The Bay restaurant and Roman Candle Pizzeria opened in 2013, but they wanted to create something different. They came up with the name Moxie after reflecting on the rebelliousness of motorcycle culture and the fearlessness and hard work of opening a restaurant for the first time.
Greene and Arroyo surveyed more than 200 Whitefish Bay residents about their restaurant preferences last winter, and they have spent the last year trying to turn those survey responses into a restaurant.
They negotiated a lease on the former Placesetters gift shop, gutted the interior, knocked out the office space, installed a kitchen and traveled the country for just the perfect flair and furniture for their intimate 42-seat restaurant. After much anticipation, Moxie will open its doors on Thursday, Dec. 15.
The interior design choices reflect the same rebelliousness as the restaurant name. Upon walking into the front vestibule, you will see a chandelier made of forks, knives and spoons overhead. As you enter the long, narrow space, your eyes will likely be drawn to the cover of Diana Ross' 1972 album "Blue," which has been scratched and chemically rusted onto the hood of a 1972 Cutlass Supreme.
Sitting down at the bar, you will notice a steampunk-style derby hat hung next to a shield that used to decorate the Milwaukee Athletic Club, the first men's-only club in Wisconsin. There's also a painting of Gloria Struck, who defied societal conventions as a female motorcyclist in the 1940s.
In the women's bathroom, guests will find two dolls from a discontinued brand called Moxie Girlz. The entire restaurant is decorated with photos from their travels to France, Germany and their Massachusetts wedding.
Moxie has three menus for brunch, lunch and dinner. They hired executive chef and general manager Tony Evans, who has crafted a menu based on the responses from the community survey. The theme of the menu is described as "inspired American comfort food," offering a twist on time-tested favorites.
The Whitefish Bay community got a sneak sampling of some dishes during last summer's sidewalk sale, and they received praise for their bourbon peach short rib sliders, short rib bolognese with rigatoni and wild mushroom bruschetta. Some of their other dinner entrees are a tomahawk pork chop, filet mignon and whitefish piedmont.
Moxie has an extensive wine list with many types of wine from all regions of the world. Bottles range in price from $21 to $72, and glasses of wine range from $7 to $12. Beers are available in bottles, and both tap beers will feature a new Milwaukee brewery called Third Space Brewing. The bar will also have a selection of spirits and craft cocktails.
Eventually, they plan to offer curbside pickup orders, online ordering, catering and private party rental. They also hope to be able to offer sidewalk seating next summer.
Moxie is taking reservations by phone at 414-204-8980 or on its Facebook page, "Eat at Moxie." The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight Friday, 10 a.m. to midnight Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.