After closing its original location in April to prepare for the move, Vietnamese restaurant Hue has officially transitioned to its new space at 2699 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
In fact, after a quick soft opening for friends and family over the weekend, the restaurant is officially open for business.
Not only did the new restaurant transform the streetscape, transforming the parking lot and former location of Sven’s Cafe into an impressive brick-covered restaurant, but it gave the restaurant the opportunity to branch out and grow with a sensation and an entirely new aesthetic.
Inside, the restaurant is much more open and spacious. In fact, customer capacity has gone from 49 seats to around 75 inside. In the coming weeks (as soon as their patio furniture arrives), this will be supplemented by up to 20 additional seats on the restaurant’s south-facing patio.
When it comes to aesthetics, guests will find a lively, brightly colored interior that gives off a fun, modern vibe. Walls are painted in a contrasting combination of mango yellow and gray that’s offset by warm wooden furnishings and cool cement floors.
“This new restaurant is much more reflective of the neighborhood,” says Carina (Cat) Tran, who operates the restaurant with her husband Mark Nielsen. “It’s fun. It’s loud and it’s family-friendly.
Tran says the interior features a fair amount of recycled items from the old Wauwatosa location as well as Bay View, repurposed in a new way. Take, for example, the collection of oil paintings on canvas the couple have amassed over the years in Vietnam. They hang from the ceiling near the bar.
Invited some new dramatic elements into the decor. For example, almost an entire wall of the restaurant is devoted to a mural depicting nightlife on a busy street in Hue, Vietnam.
“Scooters are an integral part of the culture in Vietnam and most Southeast Asian countries,” says Tran. “And unless you’ve been there, you can’t imagine what it’s like, especially at night when everyone’s out.”
Speaking of scooters, customers will also find a 1965 Honda Cub scooter on display. Not only is it related to the decor, but it’s a tribute to Nielsen’s passion for cycling.
Meanwhile, garage doors on the building’s south side open onto the patio, giving guests inside the double-sided bar a taste of the outdoors, while also providing seating for eight patio guests. and bar service on the other side of the bar. Once the furniture has arrived, there will also be table seating for additional guests on the patio.
What customers won’t see when they visit is the expanded kitchen, which (to give you an idea of the scale) takes up roughly the same area as the old Sven’s Cafe.
In fact, part of the motivation for the move was the need for a new kitchen that had the capacity, not only for day-to-day operations and menu expansion, but also for catering and events.
When we moved to Bay View 12 years ago, we were just going to open a little cafe that served Vietnamese food. Originally the plan was that I would be in the kitchen and Mark [Nielsen] would take care of the front of the house. But over the years we have grown.
Eventually, Tran says, they added lunch service. They opened (and more recently closed) a second location in Bay View. They launched their Asian Kitchen Food Truck to be used at events and festivals. And the demand for catering services quickly outgrew their limited kitchen space.
At that point, Tran says, they knew it was time to stop renting and build a space that truly fit their needs.
For now, Tran says Hue is serving the same food menu he offered at his old location (not a bad thing at all, considering you can still indulge in big bowls of delicious pho). , some of the best spicy crab rangoons in town, and deliciously light vegetable dishes like mi xao, a sweet and slightly spicy noodle dish consisting of silky Cantonese egg noodles and topped with fresh tender crunchy vegetables).
However, a kids’ menu – along with a slate of exciting new menu items – is set to roll out over the next few weeks.
As for how you can make your first visit, reservations are recommended, especially for larger groups and can be made for up to 6 people. Once open, the patio will be first come, first served.
Hue is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 p.m. to 9 p.m. In addition to the catering service, take-out and delivery are also available.