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Milwaukee's Water Buffalo closes, makes way for new restaurant

Posted at 6:33 PM, Jan 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-09 12:48:05-05

After nearly 11 years of restaurant service in the Milwaukee community, the Riverwalk favorite Water Buffalo is now closed.

On Monday, Water Buffalo posted on Facebook, announcing the restaurant's closing. A new restaurant will open in its place in April. Water Buffalo expressed their gratitude to the loyal community on the post. 

TODAY'S TMJ4 partner The Milwaukee Business Journal reported this morning that the restaurant's last day was New Year's Eve. Hospitality Democracy, Water Buffalo's parent company, said that it is closing "to serve the evolving needs of the area."

The closing comes in the middle of a resurgence in the Third Ward. 

"The Third Ward has seen a revitalization really ever since the Public Market opened in 2005," Kristin Settle with Visit Milwaukee said. "Water Buffalo, and certainly all the Hospitality Democracy restaurants have been a part of that."

Usually, when a restaurant closes its doors, it's a bad sign for a neighborhood. However, this is a little different. 

"Third Ward is one of those places that's always changing," Settle said. "There's always something new and vibrant happening and that's why it's so popular in Milwaukee." 

The restaurant's location at Water and Buffalo Streets is a popular one. Even with the river frozen outside, it's clear to see why it's such a prime location. 

"Water is the next commodity of the world and Milwaukee has so much fresh water and access to fresh water," Settle said. "It's really exciting to see so many people taking advantage of it."

Hospitality Democracy is a restaurant group founded in 2000. They are involved in other popular Milwaukee restaurants including AJ Bombers, Smoke Shack, and Holey Moley Coffee & Doughnuts. 

According to the release, Joe Sorge, co-founder of Hospitality Democracy, takes pride in Water Buffalo's part in revitalizing the Milwaukee Riverwalk. Closing the restaurant allows the company to bring something new and refreshing to the Riverwalk.  

Sorge said they "love and are committed to this location, and we want to introduce something new to the community that we know both our neighbors and visitors to the city will call a new favorite.” 

In addition to more information on the new restaurant opening in April, Sorge says people can expect "better access to the riverwalk, a better street presence, and fantastic food and beverages."