"Businesses working together:" Pop-up restaurants becoming a big part of southeastern Wisconsin's food scene

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- They only operate occasionally, but fans of southeastern Wisconsin's food scene are taking notice of a new trend that's popping up -- quite literally!

On a recent night, The National cafe, located near 9th and National in Milwaukee's Walker's Point neighborhood became Orry and Gregory Leon's kitchen.

"'Amilinda' is a combination of Greg's parents' names--'Amilocar,' and 'Linda.' So, in Spanish, 'Amilinda' translates to 'to my beautiful,'" Orry Leon said.

Orry and Gregory Leon are pop-up purveyors.

"They were trying to gather a folowing in Milwaukee and just have a little home base to work out of, so it just seemed like a perfect fit," Nell Benton said.

Benton owns The National cafe -- a restaurant she operates with her staff six days a week. In May of 2014, Benton began allowing 'Amilinda' to operate on Saturday nights. Orry and Gregory Leon bring in their employees and use her brick and mortar to give patrons a taste of their fare.

"Cuisine that I haven't really seen in Milwaukee as far as like, Portugese and Spanish," Gregory Leon said.

Operating a pop-up restaurant, the Leons say, allows them to put more focus on the food.

"They've been packed almost every Saturday," Benton said.

Benton receives proceeds from sales of her beer and wine, along with a small amount of money to offset utility costs.

The crowd on one recent Saturday consisted of several first-timers.

"I think it really shows businesses working together to really further our economy, and food is so universal that that is a great business to bring people together," Vivian King

"This is an opportunity to try something new, that is not the usual and customary. The fact that The National Cafe allows them to come in and do their pop-ups in another restaurant--that's pretty unique, and that's something that--the food scene in Milwaukee, we see a lot of chefs supporting each other," June Perry said.

Orry and Gregory Leon say they relied on this support during an experience which involves intense effort. Still, they admit, during their nine months of occasional operation, they felt some pressure.

"When a restaurant has good days, and then they have bad days--they're able to average that out. If we have a bad day, that's a bad week, and who knows how long that continues," Orry Leon said.

"It was a little scary, but I'm happy to report that people showed up. A lot of people showed up, so it was great. It was really, really good," Gregory Leon said.

"They'll come in, they love the food, and they're like, 'when are you opening? You need to open your new spot! You need to do this!' And, you're like, 'okay, well, then--we can do this!'" Orry Leon said.

With what amounts to a sizzling success, Orry and Gregory Leon are now prepared to put their plates in a permanent place. They hope other would-be restauranteurs would consider a pop-up restaurant.

"It's nice to be path-setters I guess because, you know, there's been a few that have done things here and there, but none have really set roots like we have, and it really is a great business model," Orry Leon said.

Amilinda is scheduled to start service six days a week at 315 East Wisconsin Avenue this summer.

Those involved with the success of Amilinda say they hope their success encourages the city of Milwaukee to adjust its current pop-up permit process which requires the same payment as brick and mortar restaurants.