Zita Bridal Salon’s classic white doors will close for the final time this November, when the new owners plan to move the store downtown to the first floor of George Watts & Son at 761 N. Jefferson St.
For almost 60 years, Zita has been an established fixture at 211 E. Silver Spring Dr. When Marina Kuhn of Fox Point and Cynthia Apfelbach of Mequon , they intended to keep it there, planning to move next door to a smaller space in the same building.
Kuhn said their landlord, Bill Gebhardt, negotiated a lower rent than the previous owner of Zita had paid, which was still more than they could afford, Kuhn said.
"He was very accommodating," she said.
Kuhn and Apfelbach were also planning to receive $40,000 through the village’s retail incentive grant program.
But ultimately they couldn’t settle on a rent for their new location— especially when Sam Watts, president of George Watts & Son, offered a rent that Kuhn said was “significantly less.”
“They put a package together that we couldn’t say no to,” Kuhn said. “It was a business decision.”
Watts secured a white-box grant from the city of Milwaukee to pay for a maximum of $30,000 in interior improvements, according to Kuhn.
Kuhn said their company, C&M Boutique Inc., will also invest their own money in renovations, coming out with five dressing rooms, a bathroom, and a reception area where customers can try out their gowns.
With George Watts & Son upstairs selling home décor, and the Watts Tea Shop serving lunch, Kuhn said the space will have a synergy that benefits both businesses.
“You have a bride that comes. She valet parks at Watts. She shops for her wedding gown. Then with her family, she can go upstairs and do her registry for her wedding, and then have lunch at the tea shop,” Kuhn said. “We’re creating an experience for our brides and our families they won’t get anywhere else.”
Still, Kuhn said they will be sad to leave Zita’s longtime home.
“We will miss this location, and we will miss Whitefish Bay,” she said. “Yet we hope to be able to create an even better destination for our brides downtown.”
Kuhn said the grand opening will be Thanksgiving weekend, and they will stay open on Silver Spring Drive until the day of the move.