By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Jan 15, 2004 at 5:45 AM

{image1}Café Brücke (pronounced "brew-ka") may have a German name, but don't expect a menu featuring wiener schnitzel and sauerbraten. Instead, the new café/bar/restaurant that's scheduled to open this March in the old Hartter's Bakery, 2102 N. Prospect Ave., will boast an eclectic food and beverage selection.

"I want the café to be really dynamic and ambient," says proprietor Christine Lorch, a multi-medium artist with a background in food service management.

Lorch draws from her many talents to create an ever-changing environment that will hopefully attract a diverse clientele. Currently she is in the process of painting a funky, expressionistic painting on the walls. Bright and lively, the swirly orange and white mural complements the airy, wide-windowed space.

After eight years of exploring cuisine, Lorch will also serve as Brücke's sole chef and says she will offer an affordable array of appetizers, entrees, soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts including specialties like red pepper hummus and chicken divan crepes.

"Food presentation is very important to me," says Lorch, who received a Bachelor's in Art from UWM in 1989. "I think food should be a visual experience."

The café will serve Anodyne coffee and quality beers, wines and seasonal cocktails such as sangria in the summer months and hot drinks for the holidays. Lorch's husband of five years, Jerry Patzwald, will work as a weekend bartender.

"Lovie (Patzwald's nickname for Lorch) will serve her draft beer in the Belgian tradition which will be unveiled at the opening. I believe she will be first in Milwaukee to utilize Belgian serving techniques," says Patzwald.

Patzwald, who works full-time for Spaten Brewery and speaks German, explains that "Brücke" is German for "bridge," an appropriate name considering the bistro is located just south of the Prospect Avenue bridge. The name is also a nod to the "Brücke" group of expressionist painters who lived and worked in Germany at the turn of the 20th century.

But Lorch doesn't want her business to be labeled "European," fearing it sounds too pretentious.

"This is not a German place, although it will incorporate some Germanic elements, like a casual atmosphere and quality beverages," she says. Plus, the café will include a "stammtisch" -- a large table where random patrons or friends can sit together and talk.

When asked if there will be similarities between Brücke and Mike Eitel's new Euro-inspired bar Red Light, Lorch says, "We'll have less emphasis on drink and more on the food. If I were going to compare us to any one business in Milwaukee, it would be Jacques (Café)."

Lorch, a Wauwatosa native, originally thought she would open her business in Riverwest where she and Patzwald own a home, but when she saw the East Side space she knew it was right -- even though it would require a lot of blood, sweat and tears.

"It's an incredible amount of work, but it will all be worth it," she says.

Brücke will also feature a rotating art gallery and live music. Although smoking will not be permitted inside the café, it will be allowed in the outdoor seating section during the summer.

"I see this as a really good place to go after a film," says Lorch. "Somewhere that's both mellow and fun."

Café Brücke will be open Tuesday-Thursday from 4 to 11 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to midnight. Stay tuned to for the exact date of their opening and related festivities. For more information, call (414) 264-0477.

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.