RACINE — A popular south-side restaurant, the Blue Bear, could soon be coming to the north side, pending approvals.
On Wednesday, after a short discussion, the Racine Plan Commission unanimously recommended giving Blue Bear Operations Manager Tesa Santoro a conditional-use permit to operate a takeout restaurant and to install an electronic sign at 622 Three Mile Road. Santoro’s application shows that she intends to open a second Blue Bear at that location, which is directly north of Shorecrest Shopping Center.
The application by Santoro, whose company is JTS Catering, says the site will offer catering, a bakery, a deli and a drive-thru with on-site seating for about 34 people. During the discussion with the commission, Santoro said she plans to apply for a liquor license to sell beer and wine.
Blue Bear, located at the northwest corner of Taylor and Durand avenues, opened in September 2016 as a breakfast, lunch and weekend brunch restaurant. It was opened by Brian Zielinski, who came to Blue Bear with 15 years in the restaurant business, and Santoro as the operations manager. She also moved her catering business into the Blue Bear.
From the start, Blue Bear’s menu has been comprised of locally sourced, all-natural, from-scratch-only, farm-to-table foods, none of it produced with hormones or antibiotics or using genetically modified foods. Blue Bear, which has a full bar and seats 45 people inside, has been highly popular.
Santoro plans to open her north-side Blue Bear in a 2,725-square-foot building previously used as a catering operation, with a kitchen that occupies 60 percent of the floor space.
According to her application, the new Blue Bear would be open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day of the week. It would offer deliveries from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday and 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Santoro said they did not yet have a hard deadline for opening.
The operation would have 12 to 24 employees, depending on whether they are full- or part-time.