By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Aug 27, 2017 at 10:56 AM

Bistro Z, the experiential fine dining establishment at W249 N5267 Executive Dr. in Sussex, closed quietly in late July.

The parting message on their web site read:

"We knew we were taking some risk when we opened a fine dining restaurant off the beaten path and miles from the metro hubs that would give others a leg up. We did it because we had a vision. We believed that if we built it, they would come. We created a beautiful restaurant that rivals those in big cities and matched it with a culinary experience and solid service. In the end though, the fine dining model did not generate enough traffic... [read more]"

In a conversation with Owner Craig Pruscha this week, he expressed some regrets.

"We invested so much in the space and we built a beautiful restaurant and we had a great team," he said. "My one major miss was really on the demographic of that area. What we had a lot of success with was our live blues music on Thursday nights. And we were killing it; the restaurant was full, the patio was full. But it was too little too late."

However, he noted that many lessons were learned in the year and a half that the restaurant was open, and that it won't likely be the end for Bistro Z.

Pruscha says he has one year left on current lease in Sussex, as well as the option for 15 year extension. "We’re engaging the idea of creating a family friendly restaurant in the space," he says, noting that he's spoken to a number of parties about potential partnerships.

Meanwhile, he says, he's also scouting out spaces in anticipation of reopening the fine dining brand in Milwaukee. 

"We've learned a great deal," he says. "And ultimately, we'll be looking at tweaking the concept slightly to make it a bit more casual and more urban."

In kind, he says he's looking for raw, industrial spaces in a location that would draw the demographic he anticipates will respond more strongly to the brand.

"In the right space, with the right people, I think we could do really well," he says.

 Watch OnMilwaukee for additional details as they become available.

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor

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.