Jeramey Jannene

Turner Hall Seeks New Bar and Restaurant Operator

The Tavern at Turner Hall needs new owner poised to take advantage of proximity to ballroom, Deer District and Fiserv Forum.

By - Aug 10th, 2021 04:46 pm
New signs and parklet at Turner Hall. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Turner Hall in 2019. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Want to operate a historic bar just a stone’s throw from Fiserv Forum? The Milwaukee Turners have just the place for you.

The nonprofit organization is looking for a new operator for the first-floor restaurant and bar space at Turner Hall, 1034 N. Vel R. Phillips Ave. The new business would join the upstairs event venue, the Turner Hall Ballroom operated by the Pabst Theater Group, and the gym, operated directly by the civic organization.

The 1882 building includes an approximately 5,000 square foot restaurant space that grows to 8,200 square feet when the basement, kitchen and other back-of-the-house spaces are included. A 360-degree wood bar greets visitors upon entry to the Cream City brick building.

The Turners, a 501(c)3 charitable organization with a reported 400 dues-paying members, is seeking to lease the space through a request for proposals process.

“We seek to work with a progressive restaurateur who will recognize the history and mission of the Milwaukee Turners while creating their own successful business plan and menu,” wrote the organization in its RFP. “We want them to be honest and good partners with us and our other tenant, the Pabst Theater Group, which operates the Turner Hall Ballroom and hosts concerts, shows, weddings, etc.”

The restaurant and bar was most recently operated as Tavern at Turner Hall by Mike Eitel. The restauranteur opened a bar in the building in 2018 that closed amidst the pandemic. It was to have been the CNN headquarters during the Democratic National Convention, but like virtually everything else planned for the convention, that didn’t come to fruition.

Through many operators, the signature Turner Hall food offering has been the Friday fish fry.

The ideal new operator would keep the fish fry, and “tavern” in the name. The ideal operator would also maintain the history of the space and the Turners, Milwaukee’s oldest civic organization, while adding their own unique offerings.

The new business would be directly across from the former Bradley Center site, poised for redevelopment in the coming years, and just south of the Deer District entertainment center and Fiserv Forum. The area around Turner Hall played host to more than 65,000 fans during game six of the NBA Finals and tens of thousands in the games proceeding that.

Base rent for the new operator will be $10,000 per month, not including water and other utilities, and terms are negotiable.

Responses, submitted to Turners executive director Emilio De Torre, are due August 30th.

A full copy of the RFP is available on Urban Milwaukee. More information can be found on the Turners’ website.

For more on the history of the building and the Turners, see a 2018 Bar Exam column by Michael Horne.

2018 Photo Gallery

One thought on “Turner Hall Seeks New Bar and Restaurant Operator”

  1. ringo muldano says:

    Love that building.

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