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North Avenue in Wauwatosa serves up growth opportunities beyond eateries

Fitness center and event planner find new homes in the East Tosa neighborhood

Feb. 26, 2014

An event planning business and a fitness center are the latest additions to the East Tosa neighborhood, marking a broadening of the growing business district beyond the proliferation of restaurants.

Alex Rosencutter, a lifelong fitness buff, has opened Rosencutter Ultra Fitness & Performance at 6505 W. North Ave., and Janelle Meyer-Brown, has brought Evenement Planning, an event planning business, to 7208 W. North Ave., in the space formerly occupied by Curves.

"This is straight out of an urban planner's playbook, where to build a retail corridor you have to first establish businesses that bring outsiders in, and that's primarily the bars and restaurants, the service industry," said Alderman Joel Tilleson, whose 5th District includes a portion of East Tosa. "So once you have the bars and restaurants in place, the rest of the retail will fill in naturally once you have the foot traffic."

Fitness family

This is the second Rosencutter fitness center in the Milwaukee area, with the first opening in July 2012 in Greenfield, involving Alex and his brother, Nick.

Rosencutter said he had 24 Tosa-area clients, who would be inclined to join a closer location, and so was confident he could make a go of it in Wauwatosa.

Rosencutter said the business grows out of his passion for fitness, and after working for others, the brothers had a desire to start their own business.

"It was always just a big part of mine and my brother's life," he said of fitness. "We were athletes all the way throughout high school and college, and we both got exercise science kinesiology degrees ... and we both love helping people prove themselves and change their lives to help them reach their goals."

Making an assessment

Rosencutter said a program at his center begins with a complete initial assessment, including the identification of strengths and weaknesses, and overall fitness level, "so we can determine what the right approach is for them, determined by their needs and their goals, and how we're going to get them there."

His approach is to offer what he calls "semi-private" workouts, where he supervises a small group of people who might be working on different things. He offers weekly plans starting at $179 a month, up to his "super package," at $579 a month, for four sessions a week. These plans include unlimited gym usage to work on the coached skills.

Linda Haag said she began working with Alex Rosencutter at the Wisconsin Athletic Club, before he opened the North Avenue business a month ago.

"I've trained with numerous trainers," she said. "I'm 56 years old. I've always been an athlete. I think personal trainers help you to keep your focus and tax you more so than you would yourself."

Through the Rosencutter assessment, "he showed me, 'here's what can occur because you're weak in these areas.'"

"Honest to goodness, I have worked with him now, I would say, probably six months, and in a six-month period of time, I have never felt better in my life."

She also said he makes useful nutritional recommendations.

Events close to home

While Alex Rosencutter had clients that lived near his North Avenue location, Janelle Meyer-Brown chose to open her store near her own house.

The North Avenue location serves as a client meeting place, and also provides her a showroom for the furniture.

"I do full planning for weddings, corporate events — basically from start to finish. I do some coordinating, like day-of, week-of, anything I can do to help people pull together an event," Meyer-Brown said. "But I also rent event furnishings, so let's say a bride wants, you know, fun, goofy, soft leather couches in the ballroom, around the dance floor — that would be us."

Getting in front of people, getting to know them, and finding out what they need are the keys to her business, she said.

"I know a little of everything!"

Meeting place, showroom

Meyer-Brown has a background as a banquet manager and catering director for Marriott hotels, and ran Pier Wisconsin for the Bartolotta Restaurant Group. She has operated her own business for 31/2 years. She charges by percentage of the total expenditure of an event, or by the hour, depending on a variety of factors.

Some corporate clients just want to show up and have it all done, and so will outsource everything to her, including making the payments. Her events are varied, and some are large. She's handled a $250,000 wedding, for example, and another event serving meals to 6,000 women, 800 of whom had special food needs.

Being able to lease a home space is a sign of growth and success, she noted.

"A lot of people to come to me. I've been lucky, I've been real fortunate that people have heard of me, and these relationships I have in the city are just tremendous."

Smooth planning

Amanda Trisco, whose wedding was in July, said Meyer-Brown was her day-of planner, laying out a schedule of the wedding day from 7 a.m. to midnight, coordinating reception details and making sure everybody knew "where they were supposed to be when."

Trisco said she would have rather have given up flowers than do without Meyer-Brown's services.

"Without her, our wedding day would not have gone smoothly. She is very good at what she does."

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