Sophie Bolich

Water Street Brewery Will Reopen as “The Brewery”

Reimagined brewpub will have new name, look and no servers.

By - Oct 7th, 2022 05:00 pm
The Brewery, 1101 N. Water St. Photo courtesy of The Brewery.

The Brewery, 1101 N. Water St. Photo courtesy of The Brewery.

Water Street Brewery will reopen at 1101 N. Water St. later this month as The Brewery.

The downtown brewpub was one of the first such establishments in the city when it opened in 1987, but has been closed since March 2020. And while Water Street Brewery’s three suburban locations have long since reopened, the downtown one took a little extra time.

During the early days of pandemic restrictions, as bars and restaurants hesitantly began to reopen, co-owner Matt Schmidt said he decided to focus on the other Water Street Brewery locations in Delafield, Grafton and Oak Creek, as well as Trinity, The Harp Irish Pub and Vagabond, which are owned by his dad, R.C.

That left plenty of time to reimagine the look, feel and name of the brewpub. Schmidt said that the updates will better reflect the Water Street area, which has evolved throughout the past years into a thriving entertainment district.

“We thought that tailoring the concept and tweaking it, changing the menu and the mode of service, would better reflect the area and what customers wanted,” he said.

When The Brewery opens its doors Oct. 26., guests can expect the same beer menu, still brewed on-location.

“That’s going to be a big part of the concept,” Schmidt said in an interview.

The food menu will still offer the basics — cheese curds, pretzels and the signature Scotch egg — but will heavily focus on shareable small plates.

The updated menu is meant to cater to those stopping in for a “quick bite” before heading to another event downtown, Schmidt said.

For more adventurous eaters, the new menu will include tuna poke, Indian butter chicken and other dishes outside of the expected pub fare.

In line with the streamlined dining concept, The Brewery will forgo servers. Guests can instead place orders at the bar or from their phones, using a QR code found at the table. Food runners will deliver the orders.

The space is also being designed to be welcoming to those who prefer to stay a while longer. A new layout allows ample space for pool tables, shuffleboard, darts and skeeball and other interactive games.

The brewpub’s old booth seating was removed during the update, said Schmidt, revealing “beautiful Cream City brick.”

Schmidt’s family owns the four-story building, 27,679 square feet in total, according to city records. The upper floors contain apartments.

“The building is beautiful,” Schmidt said. “And the idea we’re trying to go through with this design is to let that shine through.”

The natural charm of the building, which was originally constructed in 1889, is enhanced by vintage neon signs, tap handles and one-of-a-kind corner signs throughout, Schmidt said. All of the memorabilia is Wisconsin-based, and provides an interesting retro counterpart to “some of the modern touches” added during the remodel, he said.

The focal point of the space is the DJ booth wall, which features a colorful backdrop of vintage beer cans from the Water Street Brewery collection. The DJ booth will be active most evenings for “dinner theater,” Schmidt said, as well as Friday and Saturday nights for late-night dancing.

Above all, the reimagined brewpub will be versatile and adaptable for a range of experiences, from family dining to private parties to pregame drinks with friends.

As for the name change, Schmidt said he felt it was necessary to distinguish The Brewery from the suburban locations to avoid confusion. Throughout previous years, he noticed that in referring to the downtown brewpub, staff rarely used its formal name, instead shortening the title to “the brewery.”

“That always just stuck with me,” Schmidt said. “It’s pretty clean and clear, and it kind of explains that we are brewing our own beer on site. And you know, it kind of signifies it’s a fun place to be.”

Starting Oct. 26, The Brewery will be open Wednesday through Friday from 4 p.m. to bar close and Saturday through Sunday from noon to bar close.


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