Milwaukee, WI – Monday, October 3, 2022 – Leslie Montemurro and Scott Johnson, two owners of the BelAir Cantina restaurants, have sold their stock in the companies to third partner, Kristyn Eitel and Chef Noe Zamora. The original trio opened the first BelAir Cantina together in 2010 at 1935 N. Water St., and have opened five other locations since in Wauwatosa, Oak Creek, Madison, Brookfield and on Downer Avenue in Milwaukee. Joining Eitel in this venture as an operating partner is chef Noe Zamora. The three original owners have worked closely and intentionally to ensure a positive, informed, and seamless transition. Eitel and Zamora’s sole ownership is effective as of August 30, 2022.

Leslie Montemurro stated “Scott and I have been in the restaurant business since 1993. It’s been an amazing and crazy journey. Now it’s time to explore some other dreams in life.”

A concept born and raised in Milwaukee, BelAir Cantina is a Wisconsin staple known for its casual and comfortable atmosphere accompanied by a unique lineup of tacos, margaritas, and more. Over the years, Chef Noe has built a new following of taco lovers as he mixes traditional Mexican cooking with unique flavors and techniques for a menu that’s deliciously different and full of fresh ingredients. Since opening in 2010, BelAir’s menu has evolved with the communities in which they serve; this has only further strengthened BelAir’s ability to adapt and remain relevant to an ever-changing industry.

“Being a part of BelAir Cantina has been an incredible experience and I love the opportunities of this concept,” said Chef Noe Zamora. He added, “I’m so proud of the menu we have now and all the dishes we’ve created since 2010…but I’m just scratching the surface. We’ve just scratched the surface and I can’t wait to show the city what’s to come!”

Eitel, a Milwaukee hospitality veteran is ready for this new chapter for the BelAir brand with growth, consistency, and sustainability as top-of-mind priorities. After navigating a very uncertain and vulnerable two years during the COVID-19 pandemic, BelAir had to pivot quickly and act responsibly in coordination with every step of progress and setbacks during that time. This experience plus a dedicated team proved to be the winning combination for not only surviving but finding a positive path towards the future.

“Flexibility, patience, and simply listening better have to be three of the major takeaways from the last few years,” cited Eitel. She added, “I believe our restaurants need to live authentically in the communities in which they occupy. To do that, it’s our job to support the people, initiatives, and priorities that ultimately push us all forward. BelAir Cantina is a space that prides itself on the notion of ‘come as you are’…these are establishments where you will always have a seat at the table.”

One of the first items on Eitel’s agenda will be reviving the Powered by Tacos program, a philanthropic effort that raises funds in which are directly reinvested in our surrounding communities. The program was suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since its inception, the Powered by Tacos program has awarded $153,000 to local organizations and community efforts. Past recipients of funds are the Tosa Skate Park, Urban Ecology Center, Camp Minikani, Journey House, and Ronald McDonald House Charities. The next beneficiary of the program will be announced in the months to come as the program begins to take off.

Eitel, is a proud UWM graduate, Milwaukee Business Journal 40 under 40 alum, and dedicated community advocate with over 30 years in the hospitality business; a career that starting off as a dishwasher then server and nearly every other job there is in working in a restaurant.

And while Eitel may have purchased Leslie and Scott’s shares of BelAir, their bond as restaurateurs remains strong as Kristyn has purchased stock in Balzac, Hi-Hat/Garage, and Finks which are majority owned by Scott and Leslie. Since its inception, this group found success with a collaborative spirt through and through; and while partners paths may change, those paths continue to cross ultimately remain on similar paths for shared success. These dedicated individuals are committed to the industry and the roles in which they play in Milwaukee and Madison’s hospitality, business, and social communities.

“When we opened our second BelAir location, that was the moment when we felt a sense of not only accomplishment for the brand, but a sense of confidence. That if we worked hard and stayed true to our mission and vision, we could grow,” said Kristyn. She added, “I/we are still finding our footing as we continue to come out of lasting impacts of the pandemic along with current industry challenges. However, I’m happy for Scott and Leslie as they embrace their next chapter. I can honestly say, our confidence comes from within our team. I’m fortunate to work with Noe, an experienced and passionate partner that is all-in and excited for what’s to come. It’s absolutely wonderful.”

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