By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Aug 09, 2021 at 11:02 AM

It’s nearly time for Central Standard Craft Distillery to unveil its new home. The Central Standard Crafthouse & Kitchen – the Midwest’s first urban distillery, crafthouse and restaurant –  is set to open to the public on Aug. 14 at 320 E. Clybourn St. Downtown.

The project, which was announced in January, represents a significant leap forward for the local distillery, operated by co-founders Pat McQuillan and Evan Hughes. 

Not only will it transform a formerly vacant three-story building on the edge of Downtown; but the extensive project will include a 20-table and 30-bar-seat restaurant, a tasting room, tour operation, private-events space and rooftop patio. In addition, the renovated space will house a 100-gallon pot still, that will produce all spirits served and sold on site.

On the restaurant side, McQuillan and Hughes have brought on Franklin Perdue as the executive chef for the new venue.

Franklin, whose career has included posts at Boleo, the Peruvian-themed rooftop restaurant at the Kimpton Gray Hotel in Chicago, as well as Riverbend in Kohler where he created innovative menu specials and dining experiences for hundreds of guests.    

“Pat and I adhere to the business philosophy that you always hire people smarter and more talented than you are,” notes Hughes. “Franklin instantly elevates our team’s culinary expertise and brings a fresh new perspective to our restaurant operation and menu.”

Farm to table sensibility

A focus on fresh, in-season ingredients procured from small farms and local purveyors will be a main focus at the restaurant, which aims to capitalize on the distillery’s local focus to create a menu that is both fresh, new and befitting for the ground-breaking urban distillery.

“My approach is all about big, bold flavors and bringing out the nuance of every ingredient,” Chef Franklin said. “I love creating unique twists on familiar dishes and introducing guests to new and interesting ingredients. Being able to make someone’s day through an amazing meal is what drives me back to the kitchen each and every day.”

The menu for the restaurant is still under wraps, but Franklin says he’ll be infusing Central Standard spirits into some of the items on his menu, as well as creating culinary pairings for core products including Central Standard’s Door County Cherry Vodka, North WI Brandy and Red Cabin Bourbon.

 “Our goal is to bring people back downtown where they’ll enjoy a cocktail or bite to eat with us before heading out to experience Milwaukee’s amazing nightlife,” says Hughes. “Now, with the addition of Franklin, we’re confident our crafthouse and kitchen will be a destination for both Milwaukeeans and out-of-town guests alike.

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.