Is a Sprecher's restaurant on tap for Milwaukee?
Kevin Lederer was looking for something different. The Madison-based real estate developer and restauranteur, who previously owned a Houlihan's restaurant franchise, says he "didn't like being tied to a chain." Instead, Lederer wanted to do a brew pub, but he also didn't want to do a full-blown brewery operation.
Enter Randy Sprecher of the Sprecher Brewing Company of Glendale. Lederer sold Sprecher on the idea of opening restaurants that would function like brew pubs, pairing the full line of Sprecher products with a whole new line of food.
Working directly with Jeff Hamilton and Randy Sprecher at the brewery, Lederer and his family entered a licensing agreement that allows them to use Sprecher logos and brands, and got to work transforming his three Houlihan's locations to Sprecher's. The three restaurants spread across south central Wisconsin, from Madison, 1262 John Q. Hammons Dr., to Lake Geneva, 111 Center St., and the newly opened Lake Delton location at 644 Wisconsin Dells Pkwy.
Sprecher's Restaurant employees receive trainings on the Sprecher line. "A craft beer is not just a beer and every style has its own flavor profile," according to Anne Sprecher, PR and Marketing director at the brewery. The entire staff was also put on busses and sent to Glendale in order to see the whole brewery operation.
Lederer says Sprecher products are "catching on like crazy in Madison" with sales doubling in the area during the past year. The big sellers at the Madison restaurant have been Fire Light and El Rey.
Lederer wants to keep things local, from the beer to the meat producers supplying the restaurants and has enjoyed working with Sprecher, a family-operated business like his own. Lederer's co-owners include his wife, Katy, and his in-laws, Felix and Kristin Richgels. The Lederers have two children ages four and seven and another on the way.
Lederer, who grew up in Middleton, got his start in the restaurant business at 13 as a bus boy at the Imperial Garden, a Chinese restaurant there. He got into real estate 15 years ago and back into restaurants with the three Houlihan's, which he operated for seven years.
The Sprecher's restaurants carry every Sprecher beer and soda product. There are 14 beers and four sodas on tap (and more available in bottles) and every four-to-six weeks a different tap is added to keep up with the seasonal beers.
The Madison Sprecher's opened in January 2010, and its 7,000 square-foot patio opened early last summer. Lederer spent $1 million renovating his old Houlihan's restaurant, repairing woodwork, replacing booths and installing hand-made wood bar menus displaying the names of all the Sprecher brews on tap.
The Madison patio is attractive and well-planned, with fire pits built into tables, a fountain and a fully-stocked, open-air bar in its center. Backed by a corn field, bands perform on the patio Thursday through Sunday. There is no cover to see the bands, which are predominately rock and funk and also include the interactive performances of the Swing Crew, a popular Wisconsin Dells / Breckinridge, Colo. band.
The first year Sprecher's was open they had a hard time booking bands. But this year, bands have been coming to them and they had the entire summer scheduled in March. Page 1 of 2 (view all on one page)
I'd like to see Lakefront Brewery do something similar.
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