The legend of Brew City Barbecue comes to an ignoble end Thursday with the Mequon restaurant shutting its doors, most likely for the final time.
Dennis Eisenhauer, the current owner, notified employees on Wednesday that Thursday would be the last day. According to employees they were told that traffic at the restaurant wouldn't support the restaurant.
Brew City had an incredible history among Milwaukee bars and restaurants.
It was started in the mid-80s by legendary barman Tom Shepard and paved the way for the resurgence of Water Street as a mecca for revelers, cocktail hour and great barbecue. Shepard was a magic force in Milwaukee with successful restaurants throughout the area.
He modeled his ribs after those sold at Speed Queen, a legendary Milwaukee restaurant. They were Texas-style ribs, a little tough to the bone, not the fall off the bone so popular elsewhere in the area.
But tastes and time change lots of things and before long, financial problems forced Shepard to sell his Downtown location and move to a more serene location in Mequon.
That restaurant enjoyed minor success but never recreated the halcyon days of the Water Street spot.
Eisenhauer said Thursday morning that he just couldn't keep the place running after several bad months.
"November was about 50 percent from a normal November," he said. "Then the Christmas parties were much smaller, with so many companies laying people off. And that hurt a lot. We got to February and it was getting harder and harder to keep the doors open. It's a shame. I loved this place."
One of Milwaukee's best known and popular bartenders, he said he was going to spend a couple of weeks getting the place ready for the landlord to show, and then "I'm going to have to go get a job."
I stopped in there once after the new owner took over. There was nothing that made want to come back and I never did. Too bad, it could be a nice place. Mequon needs good restaurants.
My love for Tom Shepard aside, Brew City was so much more to me than a job. It was my home where I met some of the best people in the world. I never could have imagined way back in 1991 that this job I was starting would have such an impact on me. Now, all these years later, I can't imagine what it would have been like without it.
A restaurant can be a beautiful thing when done right. I'd like to thank Tom Shepard for bringing together a great group of people and doing it right.
RIP Tom. RIP Brew City BBQ. You'll both be forever in my heart.
I used to love the downtown BrewCity BBQ! I had no idea the one in Mequon was the same owner and I had no idea they were even still in business. I went there a few times once to sit down and a couple more times I got takeout. But there was just something off on the ribs. Quality had really gone downhill. So I didn't go back. I wish him well in the future.
5 comments about this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Dave Begel
Published Dec. 7, 2013
We all know what a "Scrooge" is: a bitter, hateful penny-pincher with not an ounce of fun, joy or charity in his cold, cold heart. Well, watch your opinion change if you are lucky enough to see the Milwaukee Rep's 38th consecutive production of that classic holiday tale, "A Christmas Carol," at the glorious Pabst Theater.
Published Dec. 5, 2013
'Tis the season to be jolly. But what does it mean for something ike a city or a county? What makes the Milwaukee family jolly or happy? As the old year leaves at the end of holiday season Dave Begel is trying to get a handle on what we need to be a happy place.
Published Dec. 3, 2013
Has football changed so much that when your starting quarterback goes down you might as well toss your chips on the felt and walk away from the table?
Published Nov. 30, 2013
Christmas stories need a moment to galvanize an audience and make the story a memorable one, maybe bring some tears and possibly make people think a little differently about the holiday. Something like George Bailey getting the money. Or when Santa proves to be the real thing in "Miracle on 34th Street." On that score - and on every other - "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" hits the mark.
Published Nov. 28, 2013
Thanksgiving is here, so here's some of what Dave Begel is thankful for, not just today, but most of the time.
Published Nov. 27, 2013
During Ryan Braun's news conference, he talked about how he wasn't going to get into specifics about what had happened and that he was only focused on moving forward. The problem with that answer to questions from reporters is that it makes Braun continue to look like he's a liar.
Published Nov. 26, 2013
I know this is the season when we are supposed to be thankful for stuff. And I want to play, too. I'm thankful this Green Bay Packers season is almost over and we can all get on with fixing things for next year.
Published Nov. 24, 2013
There are a lot of different things you can expect when you go to the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, but you would never expect this. A ballet. Right on the stage of the Quadracci Powerhouse. And with "Noises Off," a farce written by Michael Frayn and directed by KJ Sanchez, the Rep has staged a show that has everything that a great ballet has, except the music.
Published Nov. 24, 2013
A frequent pitfall for playwrights that write comedies is a temptation to wind things up at the end with some meaningful reform for the comics that turns them into serious human beings. Most often those attempts end up being sappy and sending an audience home with decidedly mixed feelings wondering whether they were supposed to be laughing all that time. Nothing like that plagues "Things Being What They Are."
Published Nov. 23, 2013
Go ahead and pick any adjective you want. Not one of them - or all of them - can possibly do justice to the glorious production of "Les Misérables" that opened Friday night at the Skylight Music Theatre. But blessed may come close for those lucky enough to see it. After it was over, I felt blessed.