Last month, Lowlands Group revealed that Bay View staple Café Centraal would close for renovations beginning January 2. Well, today is January 2, and now Lowlands has announced details of those renovations. Sometime during the first week of February (a firm date has yet to be set), the 10-year-old eatery will reopen as Centraal Grand Café & Tappery. According to a press release, the new concept will be an “evolution of Café Centraal which adds an entirely new beverage experience with over 70 beverages on tap, including beer, wine, cocktails, craft soda, tea, coffee and other non-alcoholic offerings.”

What else is in store for the rebranded Centraal? How about an “expanded kitchen, new food and beverage coolers, refinished flooring, a redesigned bar with over 70 draught lines, and a dramatic visual update throughout the space”? How about moving the main entrance to the corner of KK and Lincoln? How about dividing the space into a “Tappery” and a “Grand Cafe”? How about snacks, new dishes, and a weekday brunch?

“We’re really excited to reinvest in Bay View,” says Dan Herwig of Lowlands Group. “The neighborhood had grown so much in the past decade and our hope is that this new, ‘gussied up’ Centraal helps contribute to its next decade of growth.”

Here’s the full press release:

Milwaukee, WI – Jan. 2, 2019 – After announcing in early December that Café Centraal in Milwaukee’s Bay View neighborhood would be closing for extensive renovations, the Lowlands Group today released new details about the project. Dubbed Centraal Grand Café & Tappery, the new concept is an evolution of Café Centraal which adds an entirely new beverage experience with over 70 beverages on tap, including beer, wine, cocktails, craft soda, tea, coffee and other non-alcoholic offerings.

Café Centraal, which just completed its 10th year in operation, closed today for the extensive work and is expected to reopen in early February with an expanded kitchen, new food and beverage coolers, refinished flooring, a redesigned bar with over 70 draught lines, and a dramatic visual update throughout the space. The design is a collaboration between Lowlands Group, 360 Degrees, and Rinka Architecture.

“It sounds trivial, but the design really unfolded from the idea that the front door for Centraal really should be on the corner of KK and Lincoln,” said Dan Herwig, director of brand and marketing at Lowlands Group. “For decades, the building was a neighborhood drugstore with one of those quintessential corner entrances. We started the project with that as a major focus, and it ended up driving many of the space decisions inside.”

Besides moving the entrance to a more prominent corner, the new design also divides the building into two more-defined spaces: the “Tappery” in the front of the building, with a larger focus on the extensive curations of beers and craft tap beverages, and a “Grand Café” space in the back of the restaurant that is more focused on brunch, lunch and dinner. In addition, the design also features an event space with an art gallery vibe, featuring prints from Amsterdam artist Eddy Varekamp, as well as an extensive courtyard for outdoor dining.

Inspired by the eclectic, international food culture surrounding Amsterdam’s Centraal Station, the menu will continue to feature diverse, global café fare, but will introduce a “snacks” menu to accompany the beverage offerings, as well as some large-format platters meant for sharing between diners. Also added to the menu is a whole section of “friets,” traditional Dutch street food that will come in “loaded” styles such as Friets Speciaal (with curry ketchup, mayonnaise and diced raw onions), Patatje Oorlog (with mayonnaise, peanut sauce, and diced raw onions) or Kapsalon (with levantine meat, melted gouda, dressed greens, sambal and garlic sauce).

“Beyond the snacky items, we’ve made a big push toward more global flavors, including Middle Eastern, Asian, and Central American-inspired dishes,” says Thomas Hauck, culinary director of the Lowlands Group. “And while we’re adding lots of new dishes, we’re still keeping the DNA of Centraal intact with many of the old favorites making a return, albeit with a few tweaks here and there.”

Perhaps the biggest change in the menu will be the addition of brunch on weekdays. After reopening, Centraal will be one of the few places in the Bay View neighborhood to serve full-service, sit-down breakfast every day. The brunch menu will also be updated with a focus on fresh, local ingredients from Wisconsin sources like Yuppie Hill Poultry and Sassy Cow Creamery. The new Tappery menu will also include many new breakfast-friendly beverages on tap, including iced teas and coffees, kombucha, bloody marys and other non-alcoholic drinks, many of which are also sourced from small, Wisconsin purveyors.

“We’re really excited to reinvest in Bay View,” said Herwig.“The neighborhood had grown so much in the past decade and our hope is that this new, ‘gussied up’ Centraal helps contribute to its next decade of growth.”

Lowlands Group has not set a firm reopening date for Centraal yet, but is currently targeting the first week of February. More information about the project can be found at cafecentraal.com.

About The Author

Matt Wild
Co-Founder and Editor

Matt Wild weighs between 140 and 145 pounds. He lives on Milwaukee's east side.

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