Do you ever get a hankering for a hangover burger?
Specifically the one you could only get at The Eatery on Farwell?
It was loaded with Muenster, bacon, a fried egg and beer braised onions, along with lettuce, tomato, avocado aioli, chipotle aioli and hollandaise sauce. And it gave many a Milwaukeean regularly scheduled cravings.
If you can be patient for another few months, your craving might be fulfilled.
Ryan Oschmann, former co-owner of The Eatery on Farwell, is preparing to launch a new project. And the menu is likely to look deliciously familiar.
But, reinventing The Eatery isn’t exactly what Oschmann has in mind. Instead, he’s looking to pay homage to a family legacy that started back in 1958.
The original Aud-Mar was brought to fruition by Oschmann’s grandparents, Audrey and Marty, who built a 3,000-square foot restaurant and bar at S79W15851 Aud Mar Dr. in Muskego. It was a place initially created to entertain friends, family and guests. But, it grew into a beloved dining destination where locals and travelers alike went to enjoy a meal on the shores of Big Muskego Lake.
When Marty passed away in 1977, Audrey sold the property on land contract.
"It changed hands a number of times over about seven years," Oschmann tells me. "It was a pizza place, among other things."
In 1985, Oschmann’s parents decided to take over the property. They reopened the restaurant as The Aud-Mar Supper Club and expanded the restaurant to accommodate 180 diners.
"I literally grew up there," says Oschmann, who was only a year old when his parents took over the business. "I started washing dishes and bussing tables when I was 12. When I was 14, I started working the line. At 18, I started bar tending. And by the time I was 20 I was going back and forth between bar tending and managing and working in the kitchen. I was everything from landscaper to line cook."
In late 2006, the Oschmanns made the decision to retire. They’d been in the restaurant business for 22 years, and were ready for something new. So, they invested in development of the property, hoping to populate it with condos and single-family homes. Unfortunately, the housing market wasn’t on their side. Development took time and money, and soon the family found themselves in the position of needing an additional income.
Oschmann says that, at the time, he didn’t feel prepared to take over the business. Instead, he moved to Milwaukee and took jobs working at restaurants like Water Buffalo, Swig and AJ Bombers.
Since his parents had sold all of the furniture and equipment from the Aud-Mar, Oschmann and his mother, Laurie, decided to invest in more of a turn-key operation. In July 2010, they opened The Eatery, which had a near-five-year run before closing in January 2014.
"In some ways, the main goal was to get established and build capital so that we could go back and make something at the Aud-Mar," says Oschmann. "We didn’t expect The Eatery to close so soon, but I guess it was meant to be. On the upside, we had all the kitchen equipment and POS system, so we could move that over to the Aud-Mar."
Oschmann, who has spent the better portion of the last year dismantling barns and overseeing renovation of the Aud-Mar space with partners Laurie Oschmann and Andy Meinen, says it’s been gratifying to recreate the venue he grew up in.
"It’s a cool place to get away," he says. "It’s a beautiful space, a gorgeous lake, and you can see the stars at night."
The 16,000-square foot venue sprawls over three acres of land sporting 200 feet of Big Muskego Lake’s Bass Bay shoreline. It boasts multiple event spaces, including a yard over-looking the lake, a gazebo and pier.
Initially, the Aud-Mar will reopen as a banquet hall, Aud-Mar Banquets on the Bay, offering space and catering for groups from 25 to 200.
"The Aud-Mar was always known for its weddings," says Oschmann. "So, it makes sense to bring that back first."
He describes the spaces as "upscale rustic" and says that menus are customizable to meet the needs of any group or occasion, from office parties, birthdays and anniversaries to wedding receptions.
"We can do everything from appetizers to ham and turkey sandwiches to steak and lobster," he says.
Once the banquet business takes off, Oschmann says the plan is to graduate the banquet space to the upper level of the venue and begin work on the restaurant on the ground level, which will be called Bass Bay Brewhouse & Eatery.
According to Oschmann, the restaurant will have a similar menu and feel as The Eatery on Farwell, with a larger emphasis an entrees. It will also feature a brewery, which will be run by Dan Sterling of Chicago.
"We’ll be all about the food, and all about the service. Taking care of people. And, like at The Eatery, there will be an emphasis on local products."
The restaurant and brewery is anticipated to open sometime early in 2015.
Meanwhile, the brewery will sample a Hazelnut Brown Ale at a Fall Festival, which is planned at the Aud-Mar for Saturday, Oct. 4. The event, which will run from noon to midnight, will offer a preview of the banquet space, as well as live music, a bounce-house, games and dunk tank. A tap tent will be sponsored by Stevens Point Brewery and food will be catered by Bass Bay Brewhouse & Eatery.
"It really feels now, like this is the way everything was supposed to happen," says Oschmann. "The knowledge that I’ve gained – and being able to take that back home, and give them something to be proud of – that’s really worth it."
Lori Fredrich (Lo) is an eater, writer, wonderer, bon vivante, traveler, cook, gardener and girlwonder. Born and raised in the Milwaukee area, she has tried to leave many times, but seems to be drawn to this quirky city that smells of beer and alewives.
Some might say that she is a little obsessed with food. Lo would say she is A LOT obsessed with food. After all, she has been cooking, eating and enjoying food for decades and has no plans to retire anytime soon.
Lo's recipes and writing have been featured in a variety of publications including GO: Airtran Inflight Magazine, Cheese Connoisseur, Cooking Light, Edible Milwaukee, Milwaukee Magazine and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, as well as on the blog Go Bold with Butter, the web site Wisconsin Cheese Talk, and in the quarterly online magazine Grate. Pair. Share.