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Heirloom MKE’s new restaurant is a story of survival, persistence

Side-by-side photos of a food truck's exterior damaged by fire and a group of people smiling outside of a restaurant.
Heirloom MKE; Facebook
A truck fire was one of the setbacks Heirloom MKE faced on the way to opening its Bay View location this past August.

Each week on This Bites, dining critic Ann Christenson from Milwaukee Magazine and Radio Milwaukee’s resident foodie Tarik Moody dig into the city’s culinary and restaurant culture to help you find new spots, old favorites and the best ingestibles around Milwaukee.

Everyone loves an underdog story. Heirloom MKE certainly didn’t set out to be one when owners Jessie and Pete Ignatiev started planning their brick-and-mortar restaurant years ago. It was just that the universe seemed to be conspiring to put them in that “fight back” position repeatedly as they pursued their dream.

The pandemic came first and, like many in the food business, forced them to radically shift gears — literally. As in, “Hey, why don’t we launch a food truck instead?”

Then, just a few months ago, a fire sidelined their truck at the same time the Ignatievs were hard at work inside the former Lazy Susan location in Bay View, striving to open that long-gestating dream of a physical restaurant.

Despite all that, Heirloom MKE finally opened its non-vehicle doors at 2378 S. Howell Ave. this past August — a month ahead of schedule.

How could you not be a fan of a place like that? Well, Ann definitely is and would certainly tell you all about it on the podcast if not for the fact that our food-loving duo is on holiday break for one more week. We have the next best thing, though: Her review of Heirloom MKE’s permanent home from Milwaukee Magazine.

I won’t give away the verdict, but if (like Ann) you were already on board with Heirloom’s seasonal, locally focused approach, you won’t be disappointed by its transition from truck to Bay View eatery. As for the rest of the area’s food news:

That’ll do it for this week. Tarik and Ann will return with the listening portion of This Bites next Friday to help you start 2024 with all the latest culinary happenings around Milwaukee.