The Glorioso Family has operated an Italian market and deli in Milwaukee for over 64 years. "Glorioso's on Brady" is a Milwaukee institution. They are known for their deli meats, cheeses, olives, prepared salads and sandwiches. Michael Glorioso contacted Mehmert Store Services in late 2009. The family had purchased the old Astor Theater building across the street.
The challenges in a project like this are many. The Glorioso's current location was only 3,100 SF. The Astor building was approximately 20,000 square feet and was built in 1907 with a 10,000 square feet residential second floor. Originally the building was an open theater space that held vaudeville stage performances.
The Glorioso's desire was to create a destination experience while retaining the charm and atmosphere of the existing location and create a memorable space that would help them accomplish their sales goals. Beyond these goals they recognized the need to create a foodservice operation within their grocery function. A full service kitchen, pizza kitchen, rotisserie chicken, fresh sausage – meat market and a coffee/bakery function would eventually become a part of the design.
Mehmert Store Services was hired to function as the General Contractor, Project and Equipment Manager, to provide Interior and Décor design, to represent the family in matters concerning the City and Historical Preservation and lastly as business consultants for their expanding retail enterprise. Our goal was to learn as much as we could about their current business and their vision for the new space.
We immediately started to work on designs for the new facility. Early on it was recognized that the total square footage for the space was going to be an issue. Since the building was originally designed as a single floor space, the added second floor increased the overall square footage to a point where the building would now need an elevator and a sprinkler system. Neither of these was desired.
After considerable discussion, an interesting opportunity presented itself. By removing a portion of the second floor, the project could be submitted without the elevator or the sprinkler system. The removal of a portion of this intermediate floor system afforded an important design element allowing us to open up the space considerably. The finished ceiling height would go from 9 feet to 23 feet creating a new soaring space within the structure.
Now that the initial floor space had been determined we could go about designing the sales floor space, preps, kitchens, storage, and offices. Our team realized early on that a significant portion of the overall budget would go towards abatement, demolition, masonry and concrete flatwork. Given the fact that these upfront costs would be significant we felt that it would be important to look for appropriate used and re-conditioned equipment. An equipment "package" from an upscale market that had recently closed was found and purchased
The design for the store continued to evolve. The service counter was designed to be a 70 feet long serpentine adventure in Italian culinary delights. Another 72 feet of low and mid profile cases were used for their signature cheese department. One by one from liquor and wine, to fresh sausage through specialty grocery each department evolved and became unique. The physical space developed in tandem with the fixture plan and equipment acquisitions. Demolition and removal of the second floor exposed interior brick walls, heavy structural steel beams and the desired ceiling height. These in turn lead to design themes for the space. Period correct harp lights and double hung windows helped to create an interior cityscape of Brady Street.
Despite the fact that the space needed to feel "vintage" there still was a desire to have it be energy efficient. To this end trades were encouraged to propose energy efficient components, systems and controls. Several significant items worth mentioning are a hood control system that manages the four hoods within the space. The system is designed to self monitor and determines fan speed based upon equipment that is running. LED can and track lighting is used in the service deli and for accent lighting in wine and liquor. The refrigeration rack is tied into a Therma-Stor unit. Rejection of heat from the rack pre-heats the store's water providing a virtually free source of hot water. The systems within the store are surprisingly up to date given the store's vintage feel.
In just six months of construction, we were able to convert a wreck into a jewel. On December 2, 2010 the Glorioso's opened their new location on Brady Street. By all accounts the project is a tremendous success. Sales for the store have far exceeded the Glorioso's projections. The project has generated a lot of interest from both print media and TV. To paraphrase one journalist's view of the store...."Unlike the old Glorioso's Italian Market, I can easily and comfortably get the lay of the land." The new store is a "tasteful marriage of past and present. The shop looks more modernized than aged." "Glorioso's is not a cut-throat, cart-ramming supermarket shopping experience, it is rather a slowed-down shopping journey." Lastly they state that "In one breath, you see that these digs were worth the wait."