By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Nov 04, 2014 at 11:32 AM

After a year at Blue Jacket, Chef Matt Kerley is moving on. 

"We have gone in a new direction at Blue Jacket, and it was a really tough decision, but we felt it was better for both parties to move in separate directions," says co-owner Laura van Heijningen.

Prior to Blue Jacket, 135 E. National Ave., Kerley was the head chef at Rumpus Room.

Justice Neal, Blue Jacket’s former sous chef, will serve as the new lead chef.

"He’s really stepped up and proven himself to us. So, we felt it was time to give him that promotion," says van Heijningen.

Bittercube was originally a partner in the restaurant. Recently, Bittercube stepped out of the business partnership and took on a consulting-only role.

"We dissolved our partnership with Blue Jacket about six months ago due to the fact that we just didn’t see eye to eye on certain aspects of running the business. But we felt that we’d put a lot of time and effort and training into making Blue Jacket what it was – and helping to make it a success – so, we moved our focus to the bar and continued on as consultants," says Bittercube's Ira Koplowitz.

However, van Heijningen and co-owner Tom van Heijningen decided to completely move away from the Bittercube program and, consequently, parted ways with Bittercube's Mike McDonald – who worked for Blue Jacket – along with the bartenders who worked with him.

"At this point, we’ve severed our affiliation completely," says Koplowitz.

"Ultimately, the restaurant world is tough, Tom and I don’t make these decisions lightly. But, at the end of the day, we just wanted to reign things back to the original intention of the restaurant," says van Heijningen. "We don’t discredit those who have helped to make the restaurant what it is, because we really do owe them in getting us this far. But, it’s time to move forward."

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

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.