Joe Tachovsky, a longtime restaurateur who ran a popular King Street restaurant in the 1980s that he tweaked and moved to Minneapolis, is behind a future Johnson Street spot where Mildred’s used to be.
The Spot at 827 E. Johnson St. will be “a neighborhood kind of restaurant that serves good food,” he said.
The restaurant will serve “French, Spanish, Middle European” cuisine, Tachovsky said. “I would describe it as Mediterranean, but when you tell people Mediterranean they think falafel and tabouli.”
The Spot will likely have one menu with daily specials, instead of a frequently changing menu, he said. “At lunch, the specials will be lunchier, and at dinner they will be dinnerier, and at brunch they will be brunchier.”
Tachovsky and his partners, Shari Galitzer and Dirk Entenmann, a neighborhood couple who bought the building Feb. 15, are working with an architect to put a four-season porch or deck in the back of the tiny space, basically to increase seating and add a bar and a second dishwasher for glasses.
The restaurant has only 10 booths. The booths, leftover from Mildred’s, will remain, but the new owners intend to get new cushions for them. The Spot will also get a new floor, new paint and decor. It should open around May 1 after cleanup, foundation and infrastructure work, Tachovsky said.
The kitchen is about 100 square feet and has an inadequate dishwasher, he said. It’s “frightening to think you can operate a full-service restaurant with that little unit.”
Tachovsky, who will be doing all the cooking himself initially, is somewhat concerned about sustaining a menu in such a small kitchen. “Say I make a batch of coq au vin or beef bourguignon, when it’s gone then it would be gone, and then I would move on to something else.”
In addition to opening and running Samba Brazilian Grill for a while, in the mid-1980s Tachovsky had Porto Bananas on King Street in the space that later became the little Village Café. He opened a second Porto Bananas location on the West Side. The full name of the one on King Street was Porto Bananas: A Small Banana Port in the Caribbean. And the full name of the West Side one was Porto Bananas: Land of Lost.
“And it was no commentary on the people who live on the West Side,” he said, laughing.
Tachovsky left Madison for Minneapolis, where he ran the acclaimed Chez Bananas from 1987 to 2002. That restaurant got notice from magazines such as Esquire, Rolling Stone, Food & Wine and Bon Appetit, and newspapers such as The New York Times and Washington Post.
Jim Harrison also wrote about Chez Bananas in his book, “The Raw and the Cooked: Adventures of a Roving Gourmand.”
“If the Food Network had been (as influential) at that time, my life might be quite different than it is now,” Tachovsky said.
The new State Street wood-fired pizza restaurant owned by Ian Gurfield — who founded Ian’s Pizza, Batch Bakehouse and Gotham Bagels — announced it will close March 17.
“While we love the vibrant atmosphere of the 500 block of State Street, the neighborhood is not the right fit for our business. Thank you for your support over the past four months,” the restaurant S2pizzabar wrote on its Facebook page.