By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
Revitalization is no small feat – be it a house, a building or a neighborhood. It’s not just a matter of having the proper permits and supplies but knowing what the people – in this case the residents of Harambee – want.
When Bader Philanthropies announced its intention to renovate and by extension revitalize the historic Harambee building located at 3338 N. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr., the organization knew, it couldn’t do it alone. It created a series called “Chat with Bader,” which gave Harambee residents a chance to express their desires for the space and an opportunity for Bader Philanthropies to know its neighbors.
Going off those conversations, the organization renovated the building to fit the needs of its new tenants. So far, the building houses Sam’s Place, Shalem Healing and Refua Medicinals.
Sam Belton, the owner of Sam’s Place and several other cafes including City.Net Jazz Café, 306 E. Wisconsin Ave., expressed his excitement at being a part of neighborhood revitalization process.
“This neighborhood needs rebuilding,” Belton said. “I see ourselves as being a part of that. I see it as a part of the revitalization of the area.”
Belton, who is also a jazz musician, grew up on Milwaukee’s North Side. He watched the neighborhood disappear and now, he’s hoping that establishments such as Sam’s Place, which will be his fifth café, will be a part of the neighborhood’s comeback.
Sam’s Place is an eatery and jazz café. Part of what makes the café unique is its roasting process. Belton felt inspired to start a coffee roasting company after traveling through Europe and Africa. In 2007, he began Abyssinia Coffee Roasters. The company specializes in small batch air roasting.
Customers will be able to purchase freshly roasted coffee at Sam’s Place. The new location even has a roasting viewing window. Belton explained that while the café is comparable to his other ones, this one is on a larger scale.
He hopes to soon have his coffee in grocery stores throughout Milwaukee and across the nation. In the meantime, he’s focusing on opening his café to the public. Sam’s Place is scheduled to open on Monday, Feb. 22. It will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
The restaurant will offer dine-in, pickup and delivery.
“It’s been a journey to get open,” Belton said. “Because of the pandemic we have to do things differently. We’re socially distancing and setting up to not have too many people at one time.”
Sam’s Place will be open for everyone, Belton said. He hopes that the café is a destination people return to, a place for people to socialize and a place for people to gather.
“I’m looking forward to getting to the public and letting people know we’re here, that this place is unique,” he said.
Situated above Sam’s Place is Shalem Healing, a health care practice that combines eastern and western practices to help patients achieve health. The clinic began operating at its new location in September of last year.
Dr. Robert Fox, the founder of Shalem Healing, explained that the practice focuses on holistic healing while incorporating western practices such as laboratory analysts. For him, it is about not just treating the symptoms like in allopathic medicine but getting to the root of the problem and treating it from there. In other words, it’s not just looking at symptoms but looking at what’s causing the symptoms and eliminating the cause.
Fox will spend a half hour to an hour with a patient. While the practice will use pharmaceuticals when necessary, Fox prefers to use herbal medicine, acupuncture and nutrition to rebalance the system.
“It’s truly the best medicine and it should be available to everybody,” Fox said.
Shalem Healing is a nonprofit organization, and it operates on a sliding scale. People may pay as low as a dollar, which can be a lot for someone without a disposable income, Fox said, but that dollar signifies an investment in their health.
The practice was previously located in Wauwatosa and later Riverwest before moving to its current location.
“My desire has always been to be in a need-based area,” Fox said, adding that everybody needs affordable and accessible health care.
Fox has plans to offer classes on nutrition, mindfulness, exercise, cooking, addiction (specifically food, drugs and alcohol) and more. He’s also focusing on health issues that greatly impact low-income neighborhoods such as diabetes, hypertension, asthma and neurological health. In line with the clinic’s integrative approach, a hyperbaric chamber, which provides oxygen therapy, is available for patients to use.
Refua Medicinals, Fox’s herbal supplement line, will also be available at the Harambee location.
“If we see a high incident of disease in a low-income neighborhood, where access to care is limited then the way to fix that is make care accessible,” Fox said. “We’re taking the absolute best treatments and making them accessible