Jack Fennimore
Now Serving

The Resurrection of Karl Ratzsch’s

German restaurant will have new owner. Plus a new small-plates restaurant coming.

By - Jan 20th, 2016 04:35 pm
Karl Ratzsch's. Photo by Carl Baehr.

Karl Ratzsch’s. Photo by Carl Baehr.

Tourists coming to Milwaukee invariably think they should be trying a German restaurant, given the deutsche traditions of the town. The only problem: most of the German restaurants closed years ago. One of the holdouts, Karl Ratzsch’s, somewhat de-emphasized German food years ago, moving towards a more continental menu. And the restaurant’s business was just so-so.

So it is big news that Ratzsch’s is being sold to Thomas Hauck, owner of the highly regarded c.1880 restaurant in Walker’s Point. Hauck told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he would return the restaurant and its menu back to its roots, making it more like the restaurant “that firmly represented the German heritage of the city for over a century.”

Hauck said he approached the owners of Ratzsch’s — General manager Thomas Andera, assistant manager Judith Hazard and executive chef John Poulos— more than a year ago about buying it.

Andera called it “an exciting time” for the restaurant, telling the newspaper he thought Hauck would view it with “fresh eyes.” Hauck promised the restaurant’s first floor will be “about beer and fun and a ruckus,” with quieter dining on the second floor.

Hauck touted the location of the restaurant, saying he believed “downtown is going to boom.”

Scene 1

A new small plates restaurant and lounge by the name of Scene 1 is coming to the historic building at 5526 W. North Ave., according to OnMilwaukee.

Devon Dent, owner of Scene 1 and former co-owner of Paje Restaurant & Lounge, told the publication that it will be “a classy spot to hang out with friends.” He said the menu is still being developed, but will include small-plate-style American fare created by many chefs such as Walker Matthews, whose has worked for Paje, Centro Café and Lazy Susan in Bay View. The sweets will be provided by Madornah, a local purveyor. There will also be a full bar with wine, beer and cocktails.

The relaxed space, designed with the help of local architect Dijon Bellamy, will include both tables and custom booths. Ambient music and potentially live acoustic acts from artists like Evan Christian will add to the mood.

Dent hopes to open Scene 1 by mid-February.

The Sangria Bar

A 5,000-square foot patio on the north side of the space at 906 S. Barclay St. in Walker’s Point is in development. This new addition will become an open-to-the-public sangria bar known simply as The Sangria Bar, according to OMC.

The owners include Clai Green, who has for six months run the successful private venue, The Point, and business partners Robert Smith, Pat Smith and Elizabeth AtkinsonThey will be offering  20-25 different varieties of sangria, including pitchers, half pitchers, fish bowls and more. Cocktails and craft beer are also available. Green confirmed they will have happy hours. Drinks will be accompanied by Latin music, including live bands on certain hours.

“Walker’s Point is the perfect place for this,” Green told the publication. “The neighborhood is filled with diversity and innovation.”

The Sangria Bar will be open spring, summer and fall. Green also said that a second bar connected to the north parking lot is in the works.


Crawdaddy’s will be showing you who your daddy is when it reopens in its new location at 9427 W. Greenfield Ave. on Feb. 9th at 11 a.m., as reported by OMC. The popular Cajun and creole restaurant closed in 2013 after almost 20 years in business. But now it’s back just in time for Fat Tuesday. And owner Jonathan Klug told the publication that the extensive remodel makes the new space, which previously housed Big Dogs Sports Grill, “truly unique.”

The Iron Horse Hotel

Grab your best mask and prepare for the Iron Horse Hotel’s Mardi Gras party on Feb. 9th from 4 to 7:30 p.m.

The hotel told us via email to expect plenty of live music presented by renowned brass band Dave Bayless Group. They are also offering Hurricane and Sazerac cocktails courteously of Great Lakes Distillery as well as fried oysters ($13) from their restaurant, Branded, with remoulade and a petite salad. And if you wear your best mask, you’re eligible for a chance to win a dinner for two in Branded.

Iron Grate BBQ Co.

Last December, Iron Grate BBQ Co. postponed their opening date. Now, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the new restaurant will be opening at their location at 4117 S. Howell Ave. this Friday, Jan. 22nd.

Meats will be wood-smoked year round in Chef/Owner Aaron Patin’s very own smokers. One specialty item is the Milwaukee rib, a three-inch-thick pork rib with belly meat attached. The restaurant will also be serving one meat and three side dishes for $15, or $23 for two meats and $30 for three. You can also get meats by the pound, including beef brisket ($16), pulled pork ($12) and hot links ($11) as well as sides, including baked beans and smoked tomato mac and cheese, for $5 a pint or $9 a quart.

Iron Grate BBQ Co. will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (or until the barbecue runs out) Fridays through Sundays starting opening day. Call (414) 455-1776 or visit their Facebook page for more info.


A new Latin American small-plates restaurant by the name of C-Viche planned to open last November at 2165 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. in Bay View in the former location of Lovely Salon. Now JS reports that the restaurant will be opening this Thursday, Jan. 21st.

Owners Karlos Soriano and Paco Villar will be serving several styles of ceviche, including a Peruvian one with halibut or sea bass and a Mexican one made with shrimp and served with tostadas. There will also be daily specials and vegetarian options. Appetizers, sandwiches, salads, entrees and desserts round out the menu. They will also be serving classic Latin American drinks like a classic sour made with Peruvian brandy pisco and Pancho – an ice bowl flavored with rocoto chiles holding a cocktail and spicing it up as it melts.

The restaurant will be open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday, with a late-night menu available until closing. You can make reservations by calling (414) 800-7239. Also check out the restaurant on Facebook.

Now Closing: Yo Mama

Frozen yogurt purveyor Yo Mama announced last Friday on its Facebook page that it is closing its Shorewood location at 4521 N. Oakland Ave. It will remain open until Jan. 31st.

The owners are not renewing the lease for the location because they wanted to focus on “new and exciting projects at our Wauwatosa and Brookfield stores [at 1349 N. Wauwatosa Ave. and 2205 N. Calhoun Rd. respectively],” the announcement said.

OMC reported that the business has indicated they will be introducing their line of premium ice cream known as “Scratch Scoop Shop,” which  will come in flavors such as milk & cookies, vanilla bean cookie dough and salted caramel waffle cone.

Now Closing: Lombardi’s Restaurant & Pizzeria

Lombardi’s Restaurant & Pizzeria went as quickly as it came.

The restaurant replaced Strada Pizza at 2310 S. Howell Ave. in Bay View on Dec. 14th. OMC contacted Alderman Tony Zielinski and he confirmed that it has indeed closed.

The space previously held Mr. Webo’s during 2014 as well as Guanajuato – which called the space home for five years before moving two doors south at 2317 S. Howell Ave. Xel-ha, which rebranded to Riviera Maya in 2006, occupied the space from 2004 to 2006.

Zielinski told the publication that the building’s owners are currently looking for a new business to occupy the space.

One thought on “Now Serving: The Resurrection of Karl Ratzsch’s”

  1. blurondo says:

    11/20/15, On Milwaukee.Com, “Barbeque fans will be able to get their smoked meat cravings fulfilled at Iron Grate BBQ Co. beginning on Friday, Dec. 4.” Please note: The original Dec. 4 opening date for Iron Grate BBQ Co. has been postponed.
    1/20/16, Urbanmilwaukee.com, Iron Grate BBQ Co. will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (or until the barbecue runs out) Fridays through Sundays starting opening day, Friday, Jan. 22nd.

    Ok. They couldn’t get it open and now we’re not sure when they will be open.

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