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Wisconsin 'Cheese Melt' and Frozen Custard Shop Coming to the Village

By Andrea Swalec | April 16, 2013 7:53am

GREENWICH VILAGE — "Little Wisco" is getting bigger.

Already home to the Green Bay Packers bar Kettle of Fish and Gabriel Stulman's mini-empire of eateries that pay tribute to Wisconsin, another business dedicated to the Badger State is slated to open in the Village this summer.

Specializing in "cheese melt" sandwiches and frozen custard made from Wisconsin dairy, the casual restaurant 5oz. Factory has signed a lease on fast-changing West Eighth Street.

5oz. Factory, which draws its name from the traditional portion size of frozen custard, will serve creamy comfort food starting in mid-July, owner Angela Kuzma said, as she prepared to embark on a four-day tour of dairy farms and creameries outside Milwaukee.

"The quality you can get out of Wisconsin is second to none," she said.

The restaurant moving into the storefront at 24 W. Eighth St., most recently used as a Village-centric pop-up art space, will serve a menu of toasted sandwiches made with more than 15 varieties of Wisconsin cheese, with most melts combining three cheeses.

Kuzma, who grew up in Japan and California but spent summers in Eau Claire, Wis., is still working out the menu and prices, but at least one sandwich is set. The "From WI to NY With Love" cheese melt will include cheddar-stuffed smoked bratwurst soaked in Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, New York sharp cheddar, mild Wisconsin cheddar, spicy brown mustard and sauerkraut layered on crispy Trencher bread, a baguette-like loaf with the center scooped out.

The frozen custard will be available in just four flavors: vanilla, chocolate and two others still being tested, said Kuzma, 39, who previously worked in management at Soho House.

"The vanilla [custard] is what really strikes me," she said. "The more basic you go on food, the harder it is to perfect it."

The adddress on West Eighth Street between Sixth and Fifth avenues appealed to Kuzma because of all of the speciality food options there and on the way, like the gourmet popcorn company Populence and chicken finger favorite Sticky's Finger Joint.

"It's going to be upscale yet community-oriented," she said. "It's going to be a street that actually interests the community."

Kuzma said she hoped she could serve Midwesterners a taste of home.

"We dreamed about going to the big cities, but there are times when you miss that little bit of home," she said. "There's some comfort and authenticity there."