On February 10th, Ex Fabula held our first EXperience event of 2023. The theme was Kitchen Confidential and it was held at Aperitivo in Milwaukee. Richard Kehrin, the owner of Aperitivo, has previously worked with the Executive Director of ExFabula, Megan McGee, at Best Place Milwaukee, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to pick his brain about the service industry, his own kitchen stories, and why he’s stuck in the restaurant game as long as he has.

Richard has spent the vast majority of his life in and around the service industry behind the scenes and around the kitchen. He says that his work experience spans everything from the high standards of New York nightlife & dining to places like Lakefront and Sugar Maple, right here in Milwaukee.

Richard explained that his past consisted of heavy drug use and off-and-on again addictions that followed him throughout his working years in the service industry. Richard admits that the service industry does give way to excessive partying, late hours, and addiction-fueled behaviors if one lets it happen. However, like restaurants open and close and changes take place over the years, service workers change too. As he worked his way up the chain in various landscapes, his love of and involvement in the restaurant scene pushed for his sobriety, and he worked towards a better self.

In 2019 Richard had Aperitivo under his belt, and the brand-new Italian eatery opened in January 2020 – unbeknownst to anyone the chaos and uncertainty the Covid-19 pandemic would bring to every industry, but especially hitting restaurants and face-to-face environments the hardest. He says that his drink and food menu developed as he grew with the restaurant and faced all the changes that were to be had by a new business owner. Above all, Richard found that a strong spirit of perseverance and passion fueled his restaurant and is what allowed him to stay afloat and maintain a level of fervor to fuel his European-style brainchild.

Richard, like any owner, is surprised and grateful to still be standing post-pandemic, and continues to roll out new menu items and event ideas as we go into 2023. Like we heard continuously throughout the Kitchen Confidential event, the strong sense of family, coworker camaraderie, & navigating the trenches together, shine brightest in the kitchen and keep workers and customers alike coming back for more.

Aperitivo is open Monday – Saturday, with Saturday having slightly shorter hours than the rest of the week. Aperitivo, meaning “happy hour” in Italian, is working on rolling out their own special happy hour where free bites would be offered with the purchase of a craft cocktail-great for an post-workday winddown or catching up with an old friend! Thank you, Aperitivo, for hosting our Kitchen Confidential EXperience, and Richard for sharing your story!

Learn more about Aperitivo here.