The legend of Brew City Barbecue comes to an ignoble end Thursday with the Mequon restaurant shutting its doors, most likely for the final time.
Dennis Eisenhauer, the current owner, notified employees on Wednesday that Thursday would be the last day. According to employees they were told that traffic at the restaurant wouldn't support the restaurant.
Brew City had an incredible history among Milwaukee bars and restaurants.
It was started in the mid-80s by legendary barman Tom Shepard and paved the way for the resurgence of Water Street as a mecca for revelers, cocktail hour and great barbecue. Shepard was a magic force in Milwaukee with successful restaurants throughout the area.
He modeled his ribs after those sold at Speed Queen, a legendary Milwaukee restaurant. They were Texas-style ribs, a little tough to the bone, not the fall off the bone so popular elsewhere in the area.
But tastes and time change lots of things and before long, financial problems forced Shepard to sell his Downtown location and move to a more serene location in Mequon.
That restaurant enjoyed minor success but never recreated the halcyon days of the Water Street spot.
Eisenhauer said Thursday morning that he just couldn't keep the place running after several bad months.
"November was about 50 percent from a normal November," he said. "Then the Christmas parties were much smaller, with so many companies laying people off. And that hurt a lot. We got to February and it was getting harder and harder to keep the doors open. It's a shame. I loved this place."
One of Milwaukee's best known and popular bartenders, he said he was going to spend a couple of weeks getting the place ready for the landlord to show, and then "I'm going to have to go get a job."
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