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 May 21, 2013
When a team is as bad as the Milwaukee Brewers have been, you kind of just hold your breath, waiting for somebody with authority to lose patience with the whole thing and start chopping. And, as we all know, the normal first head on the chopping block belongs to the manager.
Published May 16, 2013
For decades Milwaukee has been a whipping boy for all those state legislators who aren't from Milwaukee. We need to find a way to fight back, something that will scare the crap out of some Republican from Bonduel or Abbotsford or even Mequon. Here are Dave Begel's weapons of war...
Published May 15, 2013
I have been kind of out of commission for more than 40 days with a health difficulty and it's been a real long haul. I think I'm in the final couple of weeks before I get to go home, but lately I've been thinking a lot about what things I miss the most.
Published May 14, 2013
The Journal Sentinel just hired someone named David Paulsen to be its new Breaking News Editor. Paulsen comes to the paper after stints as a reporter in Wausau and Poughkeepsie, N. Y. and two years at Fox News. Well, when the announcement was made the cries from staffers in the newsroom in Downtown Milwaukee could be heard throughout the civilized world.
Published May 14, 2013
Any sport can be improved upon with simple tweaks to the rules. Here is a list of one change for the major spectator sports that will help each game.
Published May 9, 2013
For months, all the pro leagues had been preparing for this announcement from some athlete. They had formed alliances with LGBT groups, laying plans for how to respond and how to handle the inevitable public reaction. But even in Wisconsin, we have moved beyond this kind of homophobic bull crap.
Published May 7, 2013
Do something great and we adore our heroes with shouts, screams and applause. We care and we show we care. What are we to do when they screw something up? We care about them just as much and ignoring their failure should not be part of this equation. Not caring is worse, much worse, than disapproving. We have to let them know that we who depend on them so much are disappointed.
Published May 3, 2013
Enough young people have been convinced they should care about using the proper fork that a number of colleges and universities in Milwaukee have started holding etiquette classes for students headed out for job interview lunches and dinners. I see no reason, however, to limit this to meals. Think of all the opportunities these kids are missing.
Published April 25, 2013
Nobody is born a criminal. There is no inevitability to a kid becoming a criminal. There is something else at work here, and that leads us to the big question: Does crime cause poverty or does poverty cause crime?
Published April 23, 2013
Excitement, recreation and fun are good things and they are well worth paying for. Let's remove the science from this debate and just concentrate on the style of life and caliber of a city we all really want.