Sophie Bolich

Rock Bottom Closes Downtown Milwaukee Brewpub

Part of national trend. Premiere riverwalk restaurant space available as building is converted to apartments.

By - Nov 17th, 2022 11:03 am
Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery is located on the Milwaukee Riverwalk. Photo taken May 12th, 2021 by Jeramey Jannene.

Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery is located on the Milwaukee RiverWalk. Photo taken May 12th, 2021 by Jeramey Jannene.

Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery has permanently closed its Milwaukee location after 25 years in business.

The large brewpub, part of a national chain that first came to Milwaukee in 1997, had its final service Monday, Nov. 14.

The brewpub, which served craft beer and an eclectic menu of elevated pub fare, opted not to renew its lease in June, said John Doubleday, principal of 3L Real Estate, the Chicago-based developer and owner of the Westown property. 3L began converting the upper floor offices into apartments last year.

The 17,200-square-foot restaurant space, 740 N. Plankinton Ave., is now available for lease, according to an online listing with Colliers International. Billed as a turn-key operation, it seats up to 500 guests. It also includes one of the premiere riverwalk patios along the Milwaukee River.

“We think that there’s a lot of possibilities for the space,” Doubleday said. “You could have a similar kind of brewery-restaurant arrangement in there, or you could split it up into smaller spaces. We’re early in the process, but hopeful for a good-quality tenant in the next coming months,” he added.

Milwaukee’s shuttered Rock Bottom is the latest in a series of closures. The brewpubs in Minneapolis and Nashville have also gone dark within the past year.

Private equity firm CraftWorks Holdings acquired the chain in 2010, but declared bankruptcy in March 2020 amidst the pandemic’s onset. SPB Hospitality purchased Craftworks businesses, which included several dining concepts, in June 2020 for $93 million, including waived debt and assumed liabilities.

Since then, the number of locations has dwindled. Rock Bottom now has 15 locations throughout the U.S., down from 35 in 2010.

“For whatever reason, they’ve made a decision to close some of the stores,” Doubleday said. Adding that it seems like the company is “going through a realignment or reevaluation of their business.”

Rock Bottom maintains several locations in Illinois. The closest is in Chicago.

The Milwaukee closure comes approximately three years after the restaurant was shut down by the city for several days after a routine health inspection revealed cockroaches in the kitchen and basement areas.

2 thoughts on “Rock Bottom Closes Downtown Milwaukee Brewpub”

  1. Colin says:

    Finally. Hopefully something actually good replaces it.

  2. Polaris says:

    While I’m not a huge fan of places like Rock Bottom, I am a fan of Riverwalk activation and this hurts, at least in the short term. The Riverwalk has been transformative, and it could use a lot more activation between Michigan and Kilbourn. Would love to see many more attractions of all kinds there.

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