Graham Kilmer

New Restaurant, Tavern For Turner Hall

Turning Tables Tavern and Eatery will be a teaching kitchen and help aspiring restaurateurs.

By - Feb 15th, 2022 05:35 pm
Turner Hall. File photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Turner Hall. File photo by Jeramey Jannene.

A new restaurant called Turning Tables Tavern and Eatery is coming to Turner Hall at 1034 N. Vel R. Phillips Ave.

An occupancy permit was recently filed with the City of Milwaukee for the first floor tavern space.

The new restaurant is being opened by Emerald Mills, a business strategist and the founder of Diverse Dining, which brings people of different backgrounds together to have conversations around race, inequality and inclusion over meals.

The restaurant will involve a teaching kitchen that will give hopeful restaurateurs the opportunity to test their ideas. The mission of Turning Tables Tavern and Eatery is to “build equity through food and entrepreneurship,” according to a fact sheet about the new business. The project, in the long run, would create a network of restaurants that hold equity, community and diversity as standards of the industry.

Participants will have six to 18 months training through the program, where they will have access to professional development and marketing services while learning to successfully run a restaurant.

The restaurant will have a constantly evolving menu, with staple items chosen by the community. The first partner on the project will be Jervel Williams and his business Mister Bar-B-Que, a successful barbeque trailer and food truck business.

The restaurant will also have programming space, and will offer monthly cultural dining experiences and corporate training events similar to Mills’ Diverse Dining programs. It will also develop an accreditation program for restaurants that participate in culturally diverse dining experiences.

The space on the first floor of Turner Hall has long been a restaurant. In 2018, Mike Eitel, owner of Nomad World Pub, opened a restaurant called Tavern at Turner Hall. It would have been on the world stage during the 2020 Democratic National Convention, as CNN had rented out the space for its headquarters. But that never came to fruition, and the restaurant closed during the pandemic.

The new restaurant will be across W. Highland Ave. from the Deer District and the Fiserv Forum. To the west, across Vel R. Phillips Ave., is a vacant lot where the Bradley Center once stood that is expected to be redeveloped in the coming years.

Turner Hall is owned by the non-profit Milwaukee Turners. Turner Hall Ballroom is operated by the Pabst Riverside Foundation.

The Milwaukee Turners are one of the oldest civic organizations in Milwaukee. Turners associations, like the one in Milwaukee, were founded by German immigrants in the 19th century. The Milwaukee Turners have a history of advocating for civic reform, social justice and workers rights.

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