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We're Open: Explore the tastes of the Middle East at Milwaukee's newest pop-up restaurant

Posted at 5:04 PM, May 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-06 18:04:34-04

MILWAUKEE — One of the newest pop-up restaurants just opened in Milwaukee. It has all the spices and flavor of the Middle East, but it's located in downtown Milwaukee. Introducing, Middle East Side at 315 E. Wisconsin Ave.

“It is a Levant-inspired menu. Trying to draw from all over the Middle East, not just one region or another," chef and owner John Chandler said.

He took a big leap of faith by quitting his job as sous chef at the popular Spanish and Portuguese restaurant, Amilinda, to start his own restaurant. However, he has one big thing going his way: Rather than renting out a physical storefront, his friend, former boss, and owner of Amilinda was generous enough to let John use the Amilinda kitchen in the mornings and afternoons. John just has to finish up before 3 p.m.

Chef John Chandler Middle East Side
John Chandler operates his new pop-up restaurant from inside the popular restaurant, Amilinda.

“I’m the only employee. I’m doing it based on what money I had saved, and each day's funds the next day.”

Amilinda chef and owner Gregory Leon said that he understands how hard it can be to open a new restaurant. He got his start with Amilinda in a similar way, so this is how he can pay it forward.

Some of John's specialties are the Shish Taouk, a marinated chicken, and his Jibneh, which is a cheese and tomato dish.

John officially opened his restaurant on May 4, and isn't sure how long he will be in the Amilinda space. However, he has big dreams.

“I would love to have a brick and mortar a few years down the line where I can bring more Middle Eastern dishes that aren’t just street food, as well as a food truck that can just handle (street food)."

Click here to view the menu. You can order online or in-person, but it's all takeout. He is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:30 am to 2:30 pm.

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