69°
Weather | Traffic

Today's Paper
Today's Paper, also known as the e-Edition, is an online replica of the printed newspaper. You can view today's paper or previous issues.

Afro Fusion Cuisine owner to open Irie Zulu, an African and Jamaican restaurant in Wauwatosa

Afro Fusion Cuisine owner Yollande Deacon is seen in a file photo.
Afro Fusion Cuisine owner Yollande Deacon is seen in a file photo. Credit: Journal Senitnel files
MKE Diner

News and notes on the restaurant scene from dining critic Carol Deptolla

March 10, 2015
SHARE

By Carol Deptolla of the Journal Sentinel

March 10, 2015 2

A restaurant by the owner of specialty foods company Afro Fusion Cuisine will open in Wauwatosa, serving African and Jamaican dishes.

Yollande Deacon is buying the building at 7237 W. North Ave. to open the restaurant, called Irie Zulu, and a production kitchen for her line of spices and sauces. The site previously housed a bridal shop.

Deacon is from Cameroon, and her husband is from Jamaica.

Through the sauces and spices sold at grocery stores such as Sendik's, Whole Foods and Outpost Natural Foods, and through her pop-up dinners and food stand at festivals and farmers markets including Tosa's, Deacon will begin her restaurant with a built-in following. Some of those customers have been asking where they can try more of her foods. 

The restaurant in part is a response to that.

"I want to do something more polished, more elevated, in a space that's really designed to evoke an experience," Deacon said. "I want people to travel" through the food.

The Tosa site also will allow her to expand her production of sauces and spices; the 2-year-old business has grown as much as it can at the commercial kitchen she rents, Deacon said. "It's a good problem to have, but it's not a good problem to have for a long time," she said.

Deacon is buying the building with the help of a $100,000 block grant through the City of Wauwatosa, which is half the purchase price; Deacon also will pay for remodeling the building, including installing a kitchen. The grant requires her to hire three employees in addition to the four she now has. Deacon estimates she eventually will have eight to 10 employees.

Irie Zulu could open as soon as mid- to late July, Deacon said, and would launch with breakfast and lunch service. She expects it would be open Tuesday through Sunday, from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. After a year, she would add dinner service and stay open until 10:30 p.m.

Menu items would reflect both her and her husband's heritage. In the 15 years since Deacon moved to Milwaukee to attend Marquette University, she's been replicating dishes from home, finding ingredients with flavors and textures reminiscent of ingredients unavailable widely here.

"How do I re-create those dishes that my grandma would recognize?" she's asked herself.

Bitterleaf casserole, for example, incorporates the more-readily available turnip greens in a dish that looks like creamed spinach but tastes of peanut, Deacon said.

Dishes on the beginning menu likely would include something like African-style sausage with omelet and flatbread at breakfast; the restaurant would serve cafe touba, African coffee seasoned with roasted peppercorn.

Irie Zulu would have sandwiches that reflect the French colonial influence found in parts of Africa, served on baguette or traditional flatbread made with cassava, as well as dishes such as jollof rice with its tomato-herb sauce, marinated grilled meats, caramelized onion with mustard seed, West African curries, jerk chicken and stews.

Deacon said she's been surprised at how well her business has been received, from the time she first blended 200 bottles of spices and sold out of all of them in an hour at a festival.

"People don't give enough credit, how Milwaukee is ready for something different," she said. "People want something authentic and that tells them a story."

About Carol Deptolla

Carol Deptolla is the Journal Sentinel dining critic. She also reports on restaurants, bars and other food- and drink-related businesses.

2 Share Tweet Print
Dining Guide Map


Looking to go out tonight? Get all of dining critic Carol Deptolla's reviews plotted on an interactive map. Go to map

Dish

E-mail Newsletter

Food and Dining includes reviews, recipes and more. Tuesday afternoons and Friday mornings.


Enter your e-mail address above and click "Sign Up Now!" to begin receiving your e-mail newsletter
Get the Newsletter!

Login or Register to manage all your newsletter preferences.

Critic's Dining Reviews

Dining Map: View all of dining critic Carol Deptolla's restaurant reviews plotted on an interactive map.



See all Journal Sentinel Twitter feeds

Advertisement