Our journey started in Jerusalem in 1961, when Jesse Musa was just ten years old, he worked in his father and grandfather’s restaurant and pastry shop where he learned to cook. He says “cooking is something I can make a living on and I love it!” At the age of 20, in 1971, with no certainty of what was in store, Casablanca Patriarch, Jesse Musa, made the decision to immigrate to the United States with his father. With a suitcase and a couple dollars, Chicago would be his new home. Jesse Musa never could’ve imagined, as a chef in a Syrian Bakery, Zyad Brothers, which is now an International Food Distribution Company, would eventually lead to a long and deeply rooted history in Milwaukee as an Executive Chef, Restaurateur, Entrepreneur and a Culinary Staple.
After several years in Chicago, Jesse would move to Milwaukee, where several of his older brothers have settled and operate several neighborhood groceries stores. It wasn’t until 1987, that Jesse Musa opened and co-owned the Sahara Inn on Mitchell Street. A few years later he would rename his beloved restaurant after his favorite movie and one of America’s all-time classic films, “Casablanca”. Jesse built Casablanca’s menu on the rich, authentic Middle Eastern recipe’s perfected by his father and grandfather. A recipe that has won decade’s worth of awards and special mentions. In 1993, Jesse moved his beloved and popular restaurant from Historic Mitchell Street, to Oakland Ave in Shorewood, only to find his way back to his humble beginnings on Mitchell Street in 1996. He would operate his restaurant until his well-deserved retirement in 2003, when he closed the restaurant doors for good, at least he thought it was.
A couple years later, in 2005, Jesse’s son’s, Alaa, Nasser & Ramsey Musa would reopen Casablanca Restaurant on Brady Street. What was believed to be the end to a successful and historic run for the Musa Family, was anything but. It turned out to be one of many new chapters in a long and rich history that is still leaving its mark, not only in Milwaukee, but across Wisconsin. Alaa and Nasser’s footprints can be traced not only in the service industry, but in real estate holding’s, development, construction, transportation, community organizations, philanthropy and holding chairmanships on the business improvement district, (B.I.D.) and neighborhood associations, with many more projects yet to be announced. It’s safe to say, their grandpa and great-grandpa’s hard work, motivation and dedication to everything they love still courses through the veins of every generation after them.
Everything Casablanca has turned into, from adding a second-floor addition to the Brady Street location, enclosing the west-side, second floor terrace with retractable roofs and sliding glass panels to opening a second Casablanca Restaurant in Brookfield to opening MooSa’s Custard Stand at North Point Beach on Milwaukee’s Lake Front, the future is looking bright. We are excited to showcase everything we have to offer. Thank you, not only from the Musa Family, but the Casablanca and MooSa’s Family as well. With other ventures opening up in the agriculture industry, we see no slowing down for us in the near future and we are glad you are along for the ride.