Fritz’s Pub, the longtime family-run staple at 3086 S. 20th St., closed in October of 2019 after 41 years of service.
The longtime Southside bar was founded by Dragoslav (Fritz) Djuric in 1978. For three years, it served as a bar only. But in 1981, the family remodeled the venue, adding a menu of Serbian fare, including popular offerings like burek, a beloved Friday night fish fry and their classic "Fritzburger."
But a new owner has plans to reinvigorate the space, introducing a new Mexican-inspired steakhouse with the intention of bringing something new to both the community and city on the whole.
Asadero Fiesta Garibaldi
Valdemar Escobar, an experienced local restaurateur who also operates Fat Valdy’s, The Chicken Palace, La Michoacanna and Fiesta Cafe, has purchased the business with plans to reopen it as Asadero Fiesta Garibaldi, a high-end steakhouse that will not only introduce its own unique menu and traditions, but pay a bit of homage to the Fritz’s legacy.
Although the timeline for opening is still likely months away, due to the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, Escobar says they’ve already made significant improvements to the property, remodeling the classic oblong bar, raising the low ceilings, refinishing floors and remodeling the kitchen, which will be be on display for diners at the bar.
"We are currently attending to little details inside," he says, from replacing equipment to putting up pictures on the walls."
Escobar says he loves the old school atmosphere inside the building, including its warm wood interior and dim mood lighting, so he will retain that ambiance for the new venue, while adding additional high end finishes.
On the menu
"I always like to bring something new to the city with all of my restaurants," says Escobar. "I travel a lot and when I see something that I like, I bring back different ideas. I am excited about this because there is nothing like it in Milwaukee."
He says he has hired an executive chef from Mexico who will oversee a menu of Mexican-inspired dishes, with a large emphasis on steaks and meats.
"We want to represent Mexican culture and community," noting that the bar will offer a large collection of tequilas, with an emphasis on mezcal. "We will also be presenting a number of fine Mexican wines to pair with our premium cuts of meat. Everything will be of very high quality."
In addition to steak, which is expected to be served in a variety of cuts, Escobar says the menu will include other dishes, including tacos flavored with ingredients like bone marrow. The restaurant also plans to continue the tradition of the Friday night fish fry, using the recipe from Fritz’s Pub, which he purchased from the owners.
Escobar says that, when it comes time to open, Asadaro will begin by serving dinner; but he also hopes to add lunch service as demand warrants.
Watch for more information on Asado Fiesta Garibaldi as it becomes available.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.