By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Aug 22, 2019 at 12:50 PM Photography: Lori Fredrich

A new restaurant called Neighborhood Draft, is likely on the way for the former Maison Restaurant at 5921 W. Vliet St.

The concept is being championed by Brian Felten and Michelle Felten, owners of TomKens Bar & Grill, 8001 W. Greenfield Ave., a venue which has been long known for their fried chicken and wings.

Felten, who grew up working at his family’s restaurant, says he’s been looking for nearly two years for a space to start a new concept. But it wasn’t until he happened upon the former Meritage restaurant that things really clicked.

"It’s just a really good fit for the concept we have in mind," he says.

Felten’s plans are somewhat preliminary, as he hasn’t yet closed on the sale of the building. But provided all goes well, he says he’s hoping to open sometime this fall.

Neighborhood Draft, he says, will focus on craft beer, particularly beer from local breweries and serve a menu of small plate style fare.

"What I’d really like to create is an economic approach to farm to table," Felten says, "We’ll have a menu that changes frequently. We want to serve people quality food that keeps people coming back."

Menu items might include items like "birds nests," matchstick fries made with regular or sweet potatoes and served with a variety of sauces; Vliet Street Tacos with skirt steak; and "Sunday Ham & Roll Sticks" featuring ham and cheese wrapped in an egg roll wrapper and fried.

And yes, there will be wings.

"I’ll be introducing an entirely new style of wings," he says. "First they’re fried, then roasted in the oven. So they’re crisp on the exterior and tender on the inside."
In the end, Felten says, they want to create a place where neighbors can come on a regular basis and have a great time.

"We’re really planning to take a modest approach to the restaurant," he says. We want to create a really relaxed atmosphere where groups can come in, share some sweet potato fries and Greek Freak Wings – with yogurt, feta and Buffalo sauce – and enjoy a Prickly Pear Gose from Eagle Park, or an Amarillo Hazy IPA from Third Space Brewery’s Pilot system."

That sounds pretty delicious to us. 

Stay tuned for more on the concept as they are finalized.

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.