The ups and downs of the Milwaukee restaurant scene

Posted at 10:14 PM, Mar 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-19 23:14:09-04

Another Milwaukee restaurant has decided to close its doors. The owner of C. 1880 in Walker's Point announced the restaurant would close April 28.

Owner/Chef Thomas Hauck said in a statement, "Sadly, with the unfortunate failure of the Karl Ratzsch venture, and the changes in the Milwaukee restaurant market, I am no longer in a confident financial position to renew the lease for the space we call home..."

Hauck has been the recipient of several James Beard Award nominations in the last six years since the restaurant opened. He plans to remain open through April for a chance to serve and say goodbye to loyal customers. 

Milwaukee Business Journal reporter Melanie Lawder who covers the restaurant beat says the extensive list of restaurant closures since January could simply be a numbers game.

"The number of restaurants has really grown over the years it seems, but the population of Milwaukee hasn't kept pace with that growth...  I have talked to some restaurant owners and operators who say that the market is saturated, others still think that there is room for more" said Lawder.

Meanwhile, as some restaurants are closing, others are expanding. Oscar Castaneda of Oscar's Pub and Grill on Pierce Street, opened a second location on Burnham Street Monday.

Castaneda says business was booming at the first location and he needed a new challenge. His new restaurant "Oscar's Winner's Circle" takes the burger concept and adds a Mexican twist.

"People love the Spanish flavor and I'm Mexican and want to throw everything in the burger... My concept is affordable prices and great food and a lot of beer and people will come," he said.