Opportunities can spring from the most unlikely places. Cameryne Roberts met Sarah Jonas while dating one of Jonas’ friends. The dating relationship faded but the friendship between the two young women remained – and flourished.
Eventually, their friendship evolved into a business partnership. They opened Cafe LuLu, a successful eatery in Bay View. In 2008, they opened a second restaurant, , in Wawautosa.
“We are both from the area," Roberts remembered. "When I met Sarah, she was in culinary school at MATC and had done a lot of restaurant work. I was working in the corporate offices at Koss.”
Roberts decided to make a career change. Taking a chapter from Jonas’s book, Roberts started working part time in a restaurant and enrolled in culinary school.
In 2001, the partners opened Cafe LuLu in a tiny space that once was home to a George Webb’s restaurant. Soon, it was known as a great spot for lunch or dinner and a delicious piece of pie.
In 2004, the cafe expanded to the space next door – formerly a secondhand bookstore – adding more seating and a bar.
It seems that Roberts and Jonas are natural restaurateurs. Wanting to open another restaurant, Jonas and Roberts scouted locations. They came across the Shiraz Persian Grill, which had been the site of Jake’s on North for many years.
“It had a parking lot and the kitchen was built out. We didn’t know if it was for sale,” Roberts said. The women found out it was on the market and put in an offer. After renovating to suit, in 2008, Jonas and Roberts opened Juniper 61 on West North Avenue at North 61st Street.
Keeping with their style of cooking, the menu at Juniper 61 is an homage to contemporary American food. Although both are at home in the kitchen, Jonas takes care of the kitchen and production while Roberts takes care of the front of the house.
The clientele is made up of neighborhood people and single professionals who love the restaurant’s diverse and tasty menu items.
“We change the menu twice a year,” Roberts said. No matter the season, the appetizers, flat-bread pizzas, sandwiches, salads and entrees reflect the women’s creative vision.
Tempura green beans are just one of the popular requests from guests. Fresh green beans are tossed in a light tempura batter and fried crisp on the outside, tender on the inside, served with a soy-chile dipping sauce.
Another favorite is the roasted duck empanadas. The mouth-watering house-made empanadas are stuffed with roasted duck and Boursin cheese, flash-fried and served with a cranberry-orange salsa.
Juniper 61's selection of flat-bread pizzas keeps guests coming back to sample another, like the Pear and Gorgonzola pizza. Roasted pears and caramelized onions top creamy white sauce with Gorgonzola cheese and toasted walnuts and drizzled with an aged-balsamic vinegar reduction.
Creative dishes, like salmon with winter greens, make up a delicious menu selection. The Alaskan salmon fillet is flash-smoked, then finished in the oven and served over horseradish mashed potatoes with sauteed winter greens.
The restaurant dessert selection changes daily. With any luck at all, there will be pie, which is flaky, buttery and full of sumptuous, seasonal fruit.
Wino Wednesdays are popular with guests as they receive $10 off a bottle of wine. There is a perch fry on Fridays and an extensive Sunday brunch offering that includes egg dishes, French toast, sandwiches and salads.
“We are known for our fresh, seasonal food made in-house for reasonable prices,” Roberts said.
The restaurant has an intimate bar area, and outdoor dining is available during season.
Address: 6030 W. North Ave., Wauwatosa
Hours: Monday - Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Sunday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Sunday Brunch: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.