Benson's Restaurant Group
Press Release

Benson’s Restaurant Group Announces Joint Venture Restaurant Development at R1VER Campus

Recently renamed hospitality group inks venture on one of first new builds in city since pandemic, set to open summer 2022

By - Jan 27th, 2022 11:31 am

MILWAUKEE – Benson’s Restaurant Group, formerly Hospitality Democracy, today announced a joint venture with Becher Development, LLC, the developer behind R1VER, for the buildout and launch of a restaurant within the evolving Harbor District R1VER campus.

The new restaurant, to be constructed in raw space at river level, is filing for initial permits on Thursday, Jan. 27 and plans to be constructed and ready to debut this summer. A restaurant has been planned as a future offering at the R1VER campus, and with its first apartment offerings beginning occupancy in spring, the restaurant is the next growth area.

“We’re thrilled to partner with the team at R1VER to bring an outstanding dining experience to the campus and its corporate and residential tenants, while adding a unique dining option to the Harbor District and Bay View areas,” said David Marcus, CEO of Benson’s Restaurant Group. “We recently renamed our company, in part, to reflect our interest and plans to grow, including in new ways such as working with quality partners like Tim Michels and his team.”

The new indoor/outdoor restaurant on the Kinnickinnic River will be located in a 6,000 sq. ft space beneath R1VER’s Tribute apartments on the east side of the campus. It will include a number of outdoor experiences and offerings along the river walk to become an area destination. The restaurant name and menu concept will be announced at a later date.

“Benson’s Restaurant Group’s roster of dining establishments in the Milwaukee-area is unparalleled, and we wanted to work with its team to develop and operate this anchor offering on the campus,” said Tim Michels, co-owner of Becher Development, LLC. “The restaurant will mirror the campus’ goal of fostering a community, and will create an inviting space with delicious offerings.”

In addition to the restaurant, the R1VER development includes office and retail space, luxury apartments, hotel plans and 1,000 ft. of public river walk. Benson’s Restaurant Group is working with RINKA Architecture on the design of the restaurant, which will be one of the first new restaurant builds in the City of Milwaukee since the pandemic.

Last week, the hospitality group, which operates and manages Onesto, Blue Bat Kitchen & Tequilaria, Smoke Shack and AJ Bombers, announced its name change from Hospitality Democracy to Benson’s Restaurant Group with a nod to its family roots and vision for the future.


Benson’s Restaurant Group is a family-owned hospitality company based in Milwaukee that conceptualizes, develops and operates a portfolio of restaurants. Benson’s Restaurant Group, a division of Marcus Investments, currently operates and manages four different casual dining restaurant concepts: Onesto, Blue Bat Kitchen & Tequilaria, Smoke Shack and AJ Bombers. The group is also the franchisor of Zaffiro’s pizza brand. Learn more at

NOTE: This press release was submitted to Urban Milwaukee and was not written by an Urban Milwaukee writer. It has not been verified for its accuracy or completeness.

Mentioned in This Press Release


Recent Press Releases by Benson's Restaurant Group

Hospitality Democracy Becomes Benson’s Restaurant Group

Benson’s Restaurant Group will continue to serve as operator and manager of the iconic hospitality group’s array of Milwaukee eateries, including Onesto, Smoke Shack, AJ Bombers and Blue Bat Kitchen & Tequilaria.

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