Three questions for Mike Eitel about Fat Abbey
Fat Abbey Biercafé opened last weekend in the former Lodge space, so we caught up with co-owner Mike Eitel of the Diablos Rojos Restaurant Group to find out a little more about his latest venture.
OnMilwaukee.com: What are your thoughts on opening a bar in the Water Street area?
Mike Eitel: We're really excited to be adding to the mix near Water Street. Fat Abbey is in the heart of it all: new hotels, new office buildings and really close to places like the Marcus Center, the Bradley Center and The Pabst.
Even though The Lodge was always viewed as a "Water Street" bar, we are kind of feeling like we are filling a niche as a "Downtown" bar with great food, huge outdoor patio and amazing beers in a casual environment.
There really are not that many options for the biz crowd down here. Fat Abbey provides a great meal in a fun environment -- whether you're wearing your streets or your suit.
OMC: Do you think Fat Abbey will attract people who wouldn't normally "do" Water Street?
ME: Yeah. I mean, I really hope so. We're banking on sort of an "off-Water" crowd. Our concept probably won't jibe with the Water Street crowd as much as it will with those of us who don't really hit the main drag. We just figure there are so many people down here who don't go to those spots that are still in the area and wanting to go out.
Every great city has its "Water Street," and they're typically encircled with something different right around each corner.
OMC: What about smoking?
ME: We are bucking the trend with smoking and going non-smoking on the first floor, smoking on the second floor. Both bars already have a totally different vibe. We are planning to do some outdoor live music once we've finished the stage, the deck and the patio. We're looking forward to installing the city's first fountain made from copper cheese kettles. Mmmm, cheese.
I agree with the comment regarding the smoking. Why not make BOTH floors NON-smoking? I would still have to smell the people passing by me as the they leave the establishment! Ugh. The smell is nauseating.
I paid $15 for two 10 oz IPA's in plastic cups. I won't be going back for more.
I don't really think their pizza's are "personal" sized, but that's just my opinion. Order an app and a pizza for two, you'll be fine...we even had some to take home. Overall, the place has a nice feel, good beer list, and the food is pretty dang tasty.
niceguy | June 12, 2008 at 9:36 p.m. (report)
Re: Floss - I think Z-boy had some good points and that you were a bit harsh. $15 dollars is a lot for an individual pizza, and Mike Eitel's places are a little expensive (for now: we can expect prices everywhere to increase as fuel costs skyrocket). He does have to pay for that $1 M build-out, after all. As for parking, well, downtown has seen quite a building boom and yes, it is harder to park everywhere lately. That will probably not change, but get worse with time and people will have to include parking structure fees and valets in their budgets when they go out. Regarding yet another Mike Eitel "european" cafe/belgian beer hall/exposed cream city brick/crappy food concept, I can only say: When will it end? Whenever one person (Bartolotta, RC Schmidt, Omar Sheik, Marc Bianchini) puts their style into multiple locations, it results in a limp, watered-down version of the original place they opened. After a few years in the public eye, they all develop into "experts" and start to really believe that their opinion not only matters, but is the definitive opinion in Milwaukee. It really is embarrassing to watch the egos grow. It would be refreshing to see more people like Scott Johnson, who owns a number of locations and is never quoted in the paper, because he is a humble, nice guy. Like me.
had dinner at Fat Abbey recently and the food was quite good. i was a little skeptical after multiple sub-par meals at Hollander. great food, excellent service, and another winning environment. took me right back to dining outdoors in europe. i look forward to seeing the patio finished. oh, and regarding parking... if you find it difficult to park on or near Water Street you're either not looking very hard, unwilling to walk a couple blocks, or not meant to be hanging out in cities. it's tremendously easy for any rational urbanite.
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