Every Friday, Off The Record looks to other Milwaukee publications (and beyond) for bits of news we missed throughout the week.
• First, the facts: Popular farm-to-table restaurant Wolf Peach, 1818 N. Hubbard St., will close by the end of March. That kind of sucks. Supper, 1962 N. Prospect Ave., a slightly less-popular restaurant owned by the same owner as Wolf Peach, closed March 12. That sucks, too. A new restaurant is expected to open in Wolf Peach in April. So who’s to blame for the whole dustup? Well, that’s where things get complicated—and where things literally boil down to “he-said-she-said.”
First, the “she said.” According to a one-source (though since updated) OnMilwaukee interview with Wolf Peach operator Gina Gruenewald, the building’s owner, Tim Dixon, is to blame. Dixon, according to Gruenewald, sold the building to the proprietor of Stonefire Pizza Co., Carl Tomich. Tomich, in turn, approached Gruenewald about partnering up on Wolf Peach. Gruenewald refused, opting instead to close the restaurant, and, due to the “stress of the transaction,” close Supper, too.
Now, the “he said.” In an EXCLUSIVE interview with Urban Milwaukee, Dixon claims Gruenewald is “almost delusional,” and that he was an equal owner of the business. He goes on to claim that “Gruenewald reneged on a handshake deal [over his ownership in the business], took the restaurant for herself, and ultimately was using Wolf Peach to support her new restaurant Supper.”
The updated OnMilwaukee piece further quotes Dixon:
“During Wolf Peach’s tenure, I gave the business a below-market lease rate. After never having received a distribution as an owner, I asked that Wolf Peach pay market rate for their lease. The Wolf Peach lease expired last October and without coming to terms, I decided selling the real estate was the best plan moving forward.”
Meanwhile, A BizTimes article quotes Dixon: “I told her she needed to find a new partner or a buyer for the building, but she didn’t do that. Wolf Peach is being closed because Gruenewald is not paying her rent or her MEDC loans.” Later, however, BizTimes quotes MEDC president David Latona: “Supper and Wolf Peach loans with MEDC are current. As for partners in Wolf Peach, Ms. Gruenewald was the 100 percent owner.”
So. The original OnMilwaukee piece blames Dixon. The Urban Milwaukee piece blames Gruenewald. And what the BizTimes piece presupposes is that the closure is the fault of both parties…but maybe it isn’t? [BizTimes]
• Speaking of Custard, Bartolotta Restaurants announced they will indeed run the Northpoint Custard stand this summer. Bartolotta’s operation of the summer staple was up in the air earlier this year due to a new minimum annual rent of $60,000 from Milwaukee County Parks. Now, the restaurant group has agreed to a one-year deal that leaves out the $60,000. The stand will open Saturday, Mary 19. [TMJ4]
• The former Schlitz tied-house tavern on the corner of Humboldt and North—you know, that big building across from the gas station that used to be Zak’s and a bunch of other places and has been empty for 8,000 years—is for sale. [OnMilwaukee]
• The Riverwest Public House is celebrating its 7th anniversary this Saturday. Also, the Riverwest Public House is in trouble and needs your help. [Shepherd Express]
• Lex Allen’s “This Is Our Year” is featured in a St. Patrick’s Day ad for Jameson Irish Whiskey. [Facebook]
• Long-absent Milwaukee post-punk outfit Absolutely is back with a terrific new single, “Paradigm.” [Shepherd Express]
• Karen Bell of Bavette La Boucherie and Justin Carlisle of Ardent are among the finalists for this year’s James Beard Awards. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]
• The Milwaukee Winter Farmers Market will not be returning to the Greenhouse Annex at the Mitchell Park Domes in 2018-19. [OnMilwaukee]
• Not April Fool’s: Milwaukee County Zoo admissions are increasing by $1.25 on April 1. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]
• Good news: The fog is getting thicker, and the Milwaukee Bucks’ attendance is getting laaaaarger. [Slackie Brown]
• Summerfest renovations are coming along nicely. [OnMilwaukee]
• Pleasant Kafe, 1600 N. Jackson St., is closed. [OnMilwaukee]
• Have a great weekend, Milwaukee!