By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Jan 27, 2022 at 12:31 PM

A brand new restaurant from Benson’s Restaurant Group (formerly Hospitality Democracy) is slated to open at the new R1VER development on South 1st Street.

 The restaurant, a joint venture with Becher Development, is slated to be an anchor tenant for the campus, which also includes office and retail space, potential for a hotel, plus 1,000 ft. of public river walk. Luxury apartments are also in the works, with the first occupancies to open in the spring of 2022.  

“Benson’s Restaurant Group’s roster of dining establishments in the Milwaukee-area is unparalleled, and we wanted to work with its team to develop and operate this anchor offering on the campus,” said Tim Michels, co-owner of Becher Development, LLC in a release. “The restaurant will mirror the campus’ goal of fostering a community, and will create an inviting space with delicious offerings.”


Although the restaurant concept and name are still under wraps, the new indoor/outdoor restaurant will be located on the Kinnickinnic River in a 6,000 square foot space beneath R1VER’s Tribute apartments on the eastern side of the campus.

Benson’s will work with RINKA Architecture to design the restaurant, which is expected to debut in summer of 2022.

“We’re thrilled to partner with the team at R1VER to bring an outstanding dining experience to the campus and its corporate and residential tenants, while adding a unique dining option to the Harbor District and Bay View areas,” said David Marcus, CEO of Benson’s Restaurant Group. “We recently renamed our company, in part, to reflect our interest and plans to grow, including in new ways such as working with quality partners like Tim Michels and his team.”

Benson's Restaurant Group owns and operates Onesto, Blue Bat Kitchen & Tequilaria, Smoke Shack and AJ Bombers.

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.