Pabst Theater Group acquires new wedding and events venue, 'The Fitzgerald'
MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Brides and grooms who booked a popular Milwaukee venue more than a year out can rest easier tonight.
The Villa Filomena is now under new ownership, but the new owners plan to keep things going.
The good news is the new owners aren't new to the wedding business at all. The Pabst Theater Group bought it and weddings on the book will go on as planned.
New owners and a new name -- it's now called The Fitzgerald, named for the original owner Robert Patrick Fitzgerald, a Great Lakes captain. The house has been here since 1875.
"They didn't build 10 houses the exact same. I mean they built places that had character," said Gary Witt, Pabst Theater Group CEO.
Character is what brides and grooms search for.
"And they're looking for opportunities, especially for unique spaces. This is a unique space," said Witt.
The Pabst Group is committed to hosting all previously booked events here into 2023.
"And look, I think in some ways it's meant to be, because if someone is going to come over and take over this space, it needs to be someone who understands the value of the history of it, but also how to maintain the history of it because it's not easy, there's a lot of work that goes into it," said Witt.
Skills, already proven by Pabst with these Milwaukee treasures: Turner Hall, The Riverside Theater and Pabst Theater.
Gary Witt gave us a private tour of The Fitzgerald.
"You see the beauty of all the chandeliers that are carved throughout in the space," said Witt.
From a large hall that holds 300 to a garden terrace where vows can be exchanged, the second floor offers a lovely bride's room with feathered light fixtures. And for the groom, it's bow ties for handles.
"We checked them out and felt really comfortable with them and really like what they wanted to continue of what we started 18 years ago," said Tony Sanfilippo, former owner of 18 years.
It was a bittersweet day for the Sanfilippo family. The house has been theirs for 18 years and they've been waiting to find just the right buyer.
"We didn't want to disrupt anyone's wedding plans, especially these people that were long-term planners that were a year or a year-and-a-half out," said Sanfilippo.
We were told one of the Milwaukee Bucks had wanted to buy it, with a center hall big enough to turn into a basketball court. But the owners couldn't do it, knowing a lot of couples would've been forced to find another wedding venue. Selling to Pabst, they say, just made sense.