The owners of Snack Boys will show off their more serious side with a new venture at 819 N. Marshall St. inside the new 17-room Dubbel Dutch boutique hotel on Milwaukee’s lower East Side.
The bar and restaurant, which could open as soon as June, will be called Horned Hare, and will offer both visitors and locals a casual, yet elevated experience featuring expertly prepared drinks and new American cuisine inspired by the European immigrants who made their imprint on Milwaukee and the surrounding area.
Horned Hare will be owned and operated by Chef Mitch Ciohon, John Revord with partners Eamonn Keyes, Stephen (Steve) Landish and investors Suzanne and Kurt Konicke. Katrina Cary, general manager at Boone & Crockett, will assume the general manager role.
The name for the concept takes inspiration from the wolpertinger, a mythical creature said to inhabit the alpine forests of Germany. Typically depicted as a rabbit with antlers, fangs, and feathered wings, the wolpertinger is believed by some to be an immortal creature with a shy disposition, enhanced hearing and facility with both running and swimming.
And it's more than fair to say that the Horned Hare is likely to be just as intriguing as its namesake.
Everything old is new again
The Horned Hare concept will be new to Milwaukee. But it’s an idea that longtime friends Ciohon and Revord began fleshing out over five years ago.
"When I was living in Door County – and before I moved the taco truck down – we’d conceptualized pretty much this whole idea, with the idea of locating it there," says Ciohon. "But when I decided to move to Milwaukee, we back burnered it."
The concept came back into the picture when they were approached by Juli Kaufman, a partner on the Dubbel Dutch project, about the potential for operating a restaurant inside the hotel.
"It was a great fit," says Revord, noting that the Horned Hare concept embraces both the classic and contemporary. "Essentially, we have one foot in the past, with two eyes forward," he says.
Dubbel Dutch partner Andy Braatz of Braatz Building will take the lead on construction of the bar and restaurant. But the architecture of the building will set the overall mood, offering a nod to Milwaukee’s past with its richly colored wooden paneling, decorative millwork and plaster details, and a beautiful original fireplace that will form a focal point for the venue's prominent L-shaped bar.
Crafty & creative
The bar, says Revord, will offer an elevated cocktail experience while providing guests a casual environment to enjoy gathering with friends or colleagues.
"In some ways, I equate this project to the early days at Boone," says Revord, "When we really got to geek out on things. While we’ve kept our quality high, the volume at Boone has increased; so we’re less hands on. But at Horned Hair, everything will be made by hand … the stemware will be elaborate … we’re talking simple, understated, but elegant cocktails."
They will also showcase a curated collection of wine, including a notable selection of natural wines. Tap beer offerings will also be select, with the entire beverage program designed to synchronize with the items on the food menu.
On the culinary side, Horned Hare will distinguish itself from other neighborhood eateries, including Bacchus and Buckley’s with a menu of small plates that reflect the agriculture, terroir and European influences in Milwaukee through ingredients like wild game (rabbit, venison, lake fish), grains and a variety of vegetables.
"The style of service really reflects the way that we choose to go out and enjoy ourselves," says Ciohon. "For me, especially, it’s about experiencing all of a place … and trying a variety of items, rather than just a singular entree."
The flexible menu will be designed to accommodate a wide audience, from guests who’d like to enjoy a bit of food with after-work cocktails to diners who’d prefer to enjoy either a casually coursed meal of smaller dishes or a table filled with shareables. It’s also designed to accommodate a more leisurely experience during which guests can sit back, relax and enjoy themselves.
In addition to the bar and dining room, the Horned Hare will also boast a private dining area just outside the kitchen. The room will accommodate overflow seating for the dining room as well as a location for chefs’ tables, pop-up dinners, collaborations, corporate gatherings and small parties.
"We’re taking this one up a notch," says Revord. "This is our most serious project yet. But it won’t be out of character for us. Snack Boys and Horned Hare are like brothers. One went to law school and the other one decided to sell schwag … but they still love each other and hang out."
Once open, Horned Hare will offer happy hour specials, dinner service and bar hours through midnight.
Lori Fredrich (Lo) is an eater, writer, wonderer, bon vivante, traveler, cook, gardener and girlwonder. Born and raised in the Milwaukee area, she has tried to leave many times, but seems to be drawn to this quirky city that smells of beer and alewives.
Some might say that she is a little obsessed with food. Lo would say she is A LOT obsessed with food. After all, she has been cooking, eating and enjoying food for decades and has no plans to retire anytime soon.
Lo's recipes and writing have been featured in a variety of publications including GO: Airtran Inflight Magazine, Cheese Connoisseur, Cooking Light, Edible Milwaukee, Milwaukee Magazine and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, as well as on the blog Go Bold with Butter, the web site Wisconsin Cheese Talk, and in the quarterly online magazine Grate. Pair. Share.