After six years, one of Walker’s Point top restaurants has made the difficult decision to close its doors.
C.1880, the laid back fine dining restaurant at 1100 S. 1st St., will serve its last meals on Saturday, Apr. 28.
"It is with a very heavy heart that I must announce the closure of my restaurant, c.1880," noted chef and owner Thomas Hauck in a statement.
"It has been an unbelievable experience to own and operate this restaurant and serve the Milwaukee community for six years. The patrons, the staff, and relationships built, have left an indelible mark on me that will last a lifetime. I am more thankful for them then I could ever simply convey in words. Opening c.1880 was a dream of mine. To watch it grow, change, and personally oversee all aspects as the chef and owner, has been one of my greatest joys in life next to the day I married my beautiful wife, and the birth of our two sons."
Hauck, who acknowledges that the restaurant had a good run, says that the decision to close derives from numerous factors.
"Sadly, with the unfortunate failure of the Karl Ratzsch venture, and the changes in the Milwaukee restaurant market, I am no longer in a confident financial position to renew the lease for the space we call home," he says, "This is in no way a reflection on the landlord or others. They have been a joy to work with, day in and day out. In reality, I must put my wife and children first in this decision, no matter how hard it is personally."
Hauck says the closing date was set with patrons in mind. He wanted to allow them enough time to enjoy another meal – or multiple meals – before the restaurant closed its doors. There’s also ample time, he says, for customers who’ve received gift certificates to redeem them.
A tough call
"We also want the opportunity to say goodbye to some of our loyal customers," he says, "who, without their support, we would be nothing."
Over the past six years, c.1880 has been the recipient of countless awards including three James Beard Foundation "Best Chef Midwest" semi-finalist nominations, six Wine Spectator Awards of Excellence, a nomination as "Best New Chef" by Food & Wine Magazine and countless local accolades.
"This was never an exercise in vanity for me," Hauck says. "Just a simple love of great food, great service, and great wine ... for great people … a concrete lesson taught to me from 'my chef' and ultimate tutor, the late Chef Michel Richard"
As a result, he says he ends this stage of his career with no regrets.
"They say hindsight is 20/20," he says. "And I would open c.1880 again, without question. I still, and always will, believe in Milwaukee. This has been one of highlights of my career. I am proud to have had a restaurant in which my wife and my mother have touched tables and rooted relationships, a place my children have grown up and played between tables, and even learned to sneak chocolates out of my sight, while not really being that sneaky about it."
On a graceful note
"This is not an easy decision by far, but it is an unfortunate reality. I want to say that the chef and restaurant community in Milwaukee is an unbelievable pool of determination and talent, I feel blessed to have been a part of it. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart. I also want to extend a special thank you to our General Manager Joshua Wolter, for his dedication to this dream of mine, and to my family ... as well as to Aaron, literally our longest lasting staff member. Thank you for being here since day one. c.1880 is in all honesty, a family, and I am thankful to all who currently are, or have been with us."
c.1880 will be observe normal hours through Apr. 28. Hours are Tuesday through Thursday from 5:30 to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m.
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.