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Café opens in old bank building

Café opens in old bank building

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RACINE — It was originally built as a bank in 1923. Now, The Branch is open for customers to enjoy breakfast and lunch.

The Branch converts the old bank building into a café while staying true to the building’s roots. Located at 1501 Washington Ave., owner Kristina Campbell was working behind the counter serving the first patrons who entered during a soft opening Wednesday.

“It’s quiet on the street,” Campbell said. “We’re just feeling the pulse of the neighborhood.”

Campbell, who is also owner of the Pleasant Prairie-based Funkytree Event and Design, recently purchased the building which originally housed American Bank and Trust Co. It later became the short-lived Gerald’s Smokehouse Cuisine.

With just a sign on the sidewalk, word of mouth and Benjamin Beer Co. brews on tap, Campbell is trying to use the business to highlight Racine.

“I want to bring in some local products,” Campbell said, adding two of her bakers rent out the kitchen for their own business as well as baking for the café.

The Branch is open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Besides beer from Benjamin Beer Company, the Branch also serves wine.

“We’re still critiquing and tweaking some things,” Campbell said. “We’re getting people’s opinions.”

Campbell said it will be available for private events like weddings and graduation parties on evenings and weekends.

Artwork from Racine Lutheran High School students is on display on the second floor. The pieces are scheduled to remain up until May 12, Campbell said.

A grand opening hasn’t been scheduled yet, but Campbell said the restaurant plans on inviting the local community in with a big event in June.


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Ricardo Torres covers federal, state and Racine County politics along with the Village of Mount Pleasant. He bleeds Wisconsin sports teams.

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