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128 Cafe Will Reopen As Stewart’s Cafe

Max Thompson’s reenergized restaurant boasts cocktails, cuisine and great parking.

Excising the recroom feel at 128 Cafe.
Max Thompson

The cozy, garden-level eatery nearby St. Thomas University went on hiatus at the beginning of the summer. The timing was perfect as construction clogged Cleveland Avenue and the students and college workers took a much-needed vacation.

While everyone else was cabin-bound, chef and owner Max Thompson got down to work, doing some major demo and rebuilding to bring the restaurant into the modern age. As they stripped the walls and pulled up the floors, it became evident that the metamorphosis wouldn’t be complete without also changing the name. “As the remodel kept getting more and more involved, it just didn’t seem like 128 Cafe any more,” said Thompson. “ It seemed time for something completely new that fits with the way people want to eat and go out these days so we decided to change it up and begin a new concept: Stewart’s.”

“At one point, Stewart’s was a true neighborhood cafe, in this very space,” he explained. “We’ve had many old patrons from as far back as the 60’s tell us stories about the old place and its owners. We even had someone drop an old picture of the original bar. And it seemed to fit with our desire to open a truly neighborhood spot.”

When Stewart’s re-opens to the public in late September the menu will be simpler: small plates for sharing, casual, but with that little global twist Thompson is known for. (Anyone who taste that burger or the Korean rice bowl at the old incarnation knows what we’re talking about.) Plus, plenty of things that pair well with a full bar.

Oh, yes, Stewart’s has been granted a full liquor license. Plus, Thompson has employed Tyler Kleinow of Marvel Bar to help pen the drink list and Jesse James Ostendorf, a one-time Iron Bartender champion and Marvel alumnus to man the bar.

Speaking of the bar, it’s now topped with a glinting copper and comfortably seats 10. The decor upgrades includes the ubiquitous reclaimed wood welcoming those drifting in from the nearby schools, with an upgraded wifi system and the unflappable Amy Ochsner, most recently of Upton 43, managing the front of house.

Stewart’s will first open for dinner only, but soon hours will expand to include lunch and brunch service. Plus, perhaps the best news of all, parking will finally make the eatery much more accessible as restrictions are eased around the neighboring blocks.

If all continues as planned, Stewart’s will welcome us before October of this year.

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