Even if you’re not from Burlington, you probably know three things about the small southeast Wisconsin city: 1. Tony Romo grew up there, 2. It’s NOT where Burlington Coat Factory started, and 3. It’s home to B.J. Wentker’s. Sadly, only two of those things are true today. After 110 years in business, B.J. Wentker’s is no more.
Monday afternoon, the “historic fine dining” restaurant announced it had permanently closed on Facebook. The post says, “Thank you to all of our employees and patrons. We will miss you all!”
The business was started by a German immigrant named Bernard J. Wentker in 1894. After a few years in business, the tavern was demolished and reopened in 1908. It has remained an active bar and restaurant ever since, including a stint in which it was allegedly disguised as an ice cream parlor during Prohibition.
While it’s quite a hike from Milwaukee, B.J. Wentker’s was one of the oldest active bars and restaurants in Wisconsin and an important piece of dining and drinking history in the southeastern corner of the state.