After almost 23 years of business, Sanford (Sandy) and Angie D’Amato have sold their award-winning restaurant, Sanford, plus the family building in which it resides, to their Chef de Cuisine, Justin Aprahamian.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin – December 3, 2012 – After almost 23 years of business, Sanford (Sandy) and Angie D’Amato have sold their award-winning restaurant, Sanford, plus the family building in which it resides, to their Chef de Cuisine, Justin Aprahamian. Chef Aprahamian is a 2-time James Beard Foundation-Best Chef Midwest nominee and a semifinalist for Rising Star Chef of the Year. He has worked for the D’Amato’s for over 10 years, the last four of which were at the helm of the Sanford kitchen while Chef Sanford D’Amato assumed a more consulting role in preparation for the eventual restaurant sale.


Sanford Restaurant was once the site of the D’Amato family grocery store that was originally opened by Sandy’s grandparent’s in the 1920’s. Sandy and Angie bought the building from Sandy’s parents and opened the restaurant on December 7, 1989. Sanford Restaurant went on to receive numerous awards and accolades including a perennial top Zagat rating of 29 for Food, the AAA-Four Diamond Award, and was named one of the best 50 restaurants in America by Gourmet Magazine. “This couldn’t be more ideal,” says Chef D’Amato. “We are extremely fortunate to have such a talented and progressive chef in our Sanford “family.” While embracing the classic integrity and philosophies we’ve built up over the years, Justin has skillfully and professionally carved out a personal direction that has been exciting to witness, and more importantly, to devour. I can’t wait to see his thoughtful creativity amplify as the years go on.”


Chef Aprahamian and his fiancé, Sarah Mudrock (who has worked for the D’Amato’s for 9 years in management, administrative and serving roles) will retain the long-standing kitchen and service team who have been the cornerstone of Sanford’s success. The “Modern Ethnic” menu will continue to explore and put a contemporary twist on the traditional cuisines of the globe, including Justin’s own Armenian heritage. The wine list will retain the same spirit of offering diverse varietals in many price ranges and since Justin is an avid beer fan, “aged beer” will find its way onto the Sanford beverage list; he has hand-selected local and national craft beers, then aged them until they have reached their ultimate potential for the list. In addition to Justin’s continued support of farming communities and artisan producers, he has planted a restaurant garden from which he will supplement the Sanford menu, tapping into it in the winter months after pickling and preserving the peak summer and autumn produce. “We are excited and humbled to be given the opportunity to continue the traditions of Sanford Restaurant,” says Chef Aprahamian. “We want to thank Sandy and Angie for their years of dedication to us, to the staff, to the guests of Sanford, and to Milwaukee.”



Justin will continue donating his time locally and nationally to include cooking for the annual Ronald McDonald House of Milwaukee fund raiser (helping families whose children are receiving medical treatment), guest speaking to aspiring students at local colleges, and in February 2013, joining Chef D’Amato to help kick hunger in New Orleans at The Taste of the NFL “Party with a Purpose,” in which Sanford Restaurant has been involved for the last 11 years to help raise over $14 million dollars for Feeding America.


Although handing the keys over to Justin, the D’Amato’s are not retiring. They will continue to consult for the restaurant and look forward to much collaboration in the future. Sandy D’Amato is in the midst of writing his first book, GOOD STOCK, a memoir/cookbook, due for release in autumn of 2013 by Agate Publishing. He will continue writing his Sunday column, Kitchen Technician (which debuted in June of 2000), for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Entrée section, and future plans include conducting private cooking classes from their farm in rural Massachusetts, where they own a second home.



Sandy and Angie have been privileged to cook for and serve the loyal and dear patrons of Sanford Restaurant, who have always supported them through thick and thin. Especially hard will be missing the day-to-day contact with their dedicated and hilarious staff, who care so deeply and run the restaurant as if it were their own.


Sanford gift certificates will continue to be honored under the new ownership.


More Articles

10568892_10152718581033690_2629754367554472243_n (1)

Join our Spring/Summer Cheese Tours!

Wisconsin Foodie is organizing Cheesemaker tours this Spring/Summer and we’d like you to join us.

by: Arthur Ircink


THIS WEEK ON FOODIE: Driftless Organics, Viroqua Food Co-Op, & Rooted Spoon

S08 E05 – This week we tour the driftless region and visit Driftless Organics, Viroqua Food Co-Op, and Rooted Spoon.

by: Arthur Ircink

WF8-608_v4 01013817

THIS WEEK ON FOODIE: Gordon Edgar Cheddar Tour | Hook’s 20 Year Dinner

S08 E04 – In this episode, we tour Henning’s and Widmer’s cheese with Gordon Edgar, and then we enjoy a dinner at L’Etoile to celebrate Hook’s 20 Year Cheddar.

by: Arthur Ircink


THIS WEEK ON FOODIE: Honey Valley Beekeeping & Michael Fields Agricultural Institute

S08 E02 – In this episode of Wisconsin Foodie, Dan O’ Leary shares his beekeeping knowledge at Honey Valley Beekeeping. Kyle Cherek tours Michael Fields Agricultural Institute and enjoys an on-site dinner.

by: Arthur Ircink

WF8-StateFair_v1 02194116

THIS WEEK ON FOODIE: Wisconsin State Fair

S08 E01 – In this episode of Wisconsin Foodie, Kyle Cherek and Jessica Bell explores the fine culinary delicacies of the Wisconsin State Fair.

by: Arthur Ircink

Schreiner's 01

THIS WEEK ON FOODIE: Schreiner’s Restaurant & Bay View Packing Company

On the season finale of Wisconsin Foodie, we visit Schreiner’s Restaurant, Bay View Packing company, and close it out with Wolski’s.

by: Arthur Ircink

Deer Butchery 01


It’s deer season this week on Wisconsin Foodie! Keith Warnke from the Department of Natural Resources guides us as well as Kyle through the Wisconsin tradition of hunting.

by: Arthur Ircink


THIS WEEK ON FOODIE: Roelli Cheese & Driftless Café

This week, we eat some of Roelli Cheese’s award winning cheese and make some incredible dishes with it at Driftless Café.

by: Arthur Ircink


THIS WEEK ON FOODIE : Amaranth Bakery & Madison Sourdough Company

This week, we load on the carbs with Amaranth Bakery and Madison Sourdough Company.

by: Arthur Ircink

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 12.13.25 PM


This week, we’re going fishing at Rushing Waters Trout Farm!

by: Arthur Ircink

Outpost Natural Foods Co-op v2
WMMB - Rotational AD
Our Media Partners

Copyright © 2012 Wisconsin Foodie. All rights reserved.

Use of this Site constitutes acceptance of our User Agreement and Privacy Policy. The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached, or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Wisconsin Foodie