Beloit’s Café Belwah unveils new look, sound

BELOIT, Wis.—Café Belwah in Beloit, Wis., will take on a whole new look—and sound—starting Wednesday, April 4.

Café Belwah, Beloit’s popular eating and entertainment spot, will launch a new look, menu and entertainment programs every Wednesday. And to top it off, the popular gathering place will be under new management.

Becky Rogers, manager of the Beloit Inn for the past three years, will now assume responsibility for Café Belwah and its staff of 50. Since the first of the year, the well-known local businesswoman, Rotarian and former chairman of the board of Stateline Festivals, has been using her organizational skills and eye for entertainment to prepare the café and well-known jazz spot for its dramatic rededication.

“We have been making more visible changes in recent weeks, and people have already been commenting on the new feel,” Rogers said. “We started trying out some new menu ideas during the Beloit International Film Festival, and we got great reactions. We have some new featured cocktails, and some new staff, too.”

The familiar photographs that have lined the Café Belwah walls since it opened five years ago are now gone. Now, new colors and textures cover everything from the walls to the bar stools.

“For several weeks, we have been moving equipment, removing walls and working on new wallscapes to give the room warmth and a fresh, more open, look,” Rogers said.

Edgerton, Wis., artist Joanna Kutter is in the process of creating a wall of three-dimensional “Ledges” that will form the backdrop for the café and entertainment area. When completed, the dark wall will be highlighted with four distinctive multi-layered sections of color with her distinctive ledge designs built out from the wall.

The biggest change will come in what has been described as one of the best music programs in the upper Midwest. “We have worked closely with jazz guitarist and Beloit Janesville Symphony maestro Rob Tomaro to attract some of the top jazz singers in this part of the country,” Rogers said. “For anyone who follows the jazz scene, they will be very impressed as we present the new Rob Tomaro Trio backing up different popular male and female jazz and standards singers and some of the best pop/rock vocalists as well.”

The new Belwah entertainment program will take off April 4, with Gerri DiMaggio, a major presence in the Midwest jazz scene, having received national acclaim for her CD, In Summer. Featured recently on the cover of Wisconsin Woman Magazine, the vocalist is a founder of Madison’s popular “Jazz at Five” series and has been a regular performer at “The Bar” at the Concourse Hotel and at Otto’s, both in Madison. Her eclectic blend of straight-ahead and Latin jazz, combined with some beautifully written original compositions, sets her apart. “She is fantastic with a great, sultry, soulful voice… She has the audience hanging on every note,” Tomaro said.

The new menu at Belwah has something for everyone, too, Rogers said. “Guests will be particularly pleased to see a new martini menu, and the triumphant return of the new and improved Fluffy Belwah, one of the bar’s signature offerings,” Rogers said.

“We have also added great new appetizers and hors d’oeuvres to the menu, along with a children’s menu and a revitalized dessert list,” she added. “Soon to come is a new lunch menu to complete the package. Chef Jason Marshall is creating new nightly features with a twist on the old favorites, and some totally original new offerings.”

Live music will run each Wednesday from 6 to 10 p.m., adding an extra hour on to the current schedule. Belwah serves dinner until 9 p.m., Monday-Thursday, and 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday.

from the April 4-10, 2007, issue

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