Italian Restaurant in Works at Westin

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The Westin Hotel under construction in downtown Milwaukee will have an Italian restaurant when it opens next summer.

Jeffrey Hess, general manager of the Westin being built at 550 N. Van Buren St., said the concept and menu of the restaurant are still under development, but added it would have "an Italian frame of reference, with a unique twist."

The menu will carry steaks, he said.

White Lodging, based in Merrillville, Ind., will operate the restaurant. The company's corporate development chef, Andrew Ashmore, is designing the menu. It will be finalized once a chef is hired for the restaurant, Hess said.

JSWD Wisconsin Venture I LLC, led by developers Ed Carow and Mark Flaherty, is building the hotel on a vacant lot between the U.S. Bank Center's Galleria and its parking structure. That's between E. Michigan and E. Clybourn streets.

The hotel will connect to the Galleria, and the restaurant will be on the Galleria level, the hotel's third story. More than 3,500 people work in the U.S. Bank Center, Wisconsin's tallest building.

"We want to be a convenient asset to the U.S. Bank community," Hess said.

The restaurant is expected to have about 180 seats, which includes private dining rooms. Separately, the hotel also will have a banquet room and catering services.

The Italian restaurant will have an open kitchen and a bar that's separate from the main dining room. The bar's focus will be craft cocktails and wines by the glass, Hess said. The restaurant last week applied for a liquor license.

The lunch menu will be only slightly different from the dinner menu, Hess said, but in the morning, the focus will be on healthful breakfasts in line with Westin's "Eat Well" program.

The restaurant  — the name of which has not yet been released — will be open daily, including holidays, Hess said.

Besides the 220-room Westin, other downtown projects near the lakefront include the 833 East Michigan office tower, which opened this year and which houses the upscale Rare Steakhouse on its first floor; Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co.'s office tower under construction at 745 N. Prospect Ave.; and the planned Couture apartment high-rise at 909 E. Michigan.

Westin, a higher-end hotel, is a brand under Starwood Hotels & Resorts. The merger of Starwood and Marriott International was approved in September.