By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Apr 25, 2023 at 7:01 PM

Growler’s East Tosa is the name of a new gastropub concept planned for the former Red Dot at 6715 W. North Ave. 

The concept, which will occupy the west side of the building, will feature a full menu of scratch-made bar fare with a throw-back sports-themed aesthetic. The hope is that the new venue will open by late summer.

The building, which was originally slated for redevelopment, was instead sold to Mario Balistreri, co-owner of BB’s on North, last year. The interior was demolished and divided into two distinct spaces, one of which made sense to house a food and beverage establishment.

Along the way, a serendipitous connection with longtime industry veteran Jason Growel led to a partnership with Balistreri and his brother Pietro. Plans for the new bar and restaurant grew up from there.

Growel, who will take on the operational responsibilities for the new business, has been in the bar and restaurant industry for decades. Years ago, he was the owner of the former Eastsider on North Avenue and part of the original ownership team at Wauwatiki, located just down the street from the proposed Growler’s East Tosa. He says the concept for the new gastropub has been percolating for years, and he’s excited for it to come to fruition.

Plans for Growler’s East Tosa include both a full bar and dining room, along with a patio located to the south of the building. Inside, the decor will reflect a sports theme featuring nostalgic art, photography and paraphernalia along with a growler wall showcasing growlers collected by Growel from bars and restaurants across the U.S.

Growel says the menu, which will be developed by Pietro, will feature fresh, housemade bar fare including wings, burgers and potentially a twist on pizza as an homage to BB’s.  At the bar, guests can expect as many as 24 craft brews, plus a notable bourbon list. 

Also in the plans are a golf simulator and ample televisions, which will be used to broadcast all major sporting events, including the World Cup and Bucks playoffs.

Growel says construction, which will be performed by Venture Construction Group, is expected to begin as soon as May with the goal of completion sometime in August.

“We’re trying to transform this vacant space into a concept that folks in the area will really be able to enjoy,” he says. “And we can’t wait to see it all come together.”

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.