La Crema, a new breakfast and lunch restaurant, is now open in Cudahy
Those looking for breakfast or lunch have a new choice in an old building in Cudahy.
La Crema opened in the old Samano building at 3431 E. Plankinton Ave.
Milwaukee residents Gerardo Flores and his sister Claudia Flores began moving the restaurant into the renovated building in November 2021. The siblings hosted a soft opening for La Crema on February 21.
The company name is a Spanish translation of part of the classic French phrase “crème de la crème” which refers to something like the best. Claudia Flores said they used the Spanish version to represent their heritage.
La Crema is open from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and serves breakfast and lunch but not dinner. Claudia Flores said dinner orders are often “more complex.”
“It works well because everyone loves breakfast and lunch,” she said.
Gerardo Flores seconded this, saying they know these meals very well. “We know what we are strong in,” he said.
The Flores siblings have been involved in the restaurant business for much of their lives, as their parents own a restaurant in Green Bay. Claudia Flores was a waitress there during high school. Gerardo Flores was more involved in running the business.
Now in their mid-twenties, the siblings have chosen to open their own restaurant.
Renovation and restoration
Gerardo Flores said they were looking for a location before the pandemic started. Once it hit, the siblings stopped looking for a while until they found an online listing for this historic place.
Samano closed in 2020 after 53 years in business, but the building itself was constructed in 1894. Tim Dertz took over after Samano closed, and he spent time and money renovating and restoring the property. Most of the work included roofing, new flooring and electrical repair. Dertz said he wanted to preserve history as much as possible as a sedan.
“We didn’t want to mess with the interior too much to cling to the historical aspects,” Dertz said in April 2021. “Structurally the bones are strong; we’re just doing a good cleaning.
One of the main areas that Dertz strove to preserve was the large bar – Claudia Flores’ favorite feature.
Gerardo Flores said he and his sister both loved the older style and architecture and could imagine themselves inside when they saw it.
Dertz said he wanted to make the building as “turnkey as possible” for a new tenant. Gerardo Flores said he achieved this goal for a restaurant.
The upper part of the building is occupied by living quarters and the siblings currently use it as office space. Gerardo Flores said they chose to rent out the entire building for liability reasons, as it could complicate things if someone unaffiliated with the restaurant lives upstairs.
Staff and supply shortages
The location offers space to sit outside, but the siblings aren’t sure if they’ll use it yet. Part of the reason is the current staff shortage; the outdoor space would double the number of customers who could be there at the same time.
“We want to make sure we can handle this with the staff,” Claudia Flores said.
The brothers and sisters do a lot of service and other operational work themselves. Part of that is a desire to be an involved example, but another part is a lack of employees, which many companies experience.
La Crema is hiring for servers, food prep, dishwashers and more; anyone interested should contact [email protected].
Claudia Flores said she sees the effect of the pandemic on the supply chain, but that’s the only real effect the pandemic is having on the business. She said people are coming out again and the response so far has been good.
Gerardo Flores said their goal was to “get it right the first time”.
“We want to make sure that when people are here they want to come back,” he said.
What can I get for you?
A highlight of the menu is the chilaquiles: corn tortilla chips topped with a homemade salsa verde, pico de gallo, queso fresco and sour cream. It comes with two eggs any style and black beans on the side for $13.
“I haven’t seen anyone yet not finish it,” Gerardo Flores said with a smile.
The siblings also use a family recipe for their pancakes. Confessing that they “stole it from dad”, they said it was a very personal menu item for them. Toppings such as banana pecans, chocolate chips, strawberries, and blueberries are offered.
The restaurant does not yet have a liquor license, but the siblings hope to be able to serve alcohol by summer.