Last night, news emerged that John Hawks Pub, 100 E. Wisconsin Ave., would get a new owner after 40 years east of the river in Downtown Milwaukee. This morning, an official statement arrived from owner Robert Bell's publicist.
"After 40 years, it was announced today that John Hawks Pub, a Milwaukee Landmark, will be soon be getting a new owner, and a few changes to help it better compete and attract new customers well into the future. According to Hawk's founder, Robert Bell, he has agreed to sell his business to Brian Ward, the owner of Ward's House of Prime in Downtown Milwaukee so he can retire in early May.
"Bell feels that Ward, who has been actively involved in every aspect of the restaurant industry since the age of 15, is the perfect person to continue Hawk's legacy in Milwaukee and to enhance the facility to help ensure its future success."
John Hawks Pub opened in in 1971 in the lower level at 607 N. Broadway-- where it was expanded in 1986. It moved to its current location in 1990.
Ward plans to expand the bar and restaurant's selection of "upscale brands" of scotch and whiskey and more English and European beers to the list. He also will add games and large screen TVs to the bar.
In the dining room expect alterations to the menu, including the addition of homemade soups, salads and sandwiches. English food will continue to be available. Ward will also expand the deli to take "a more New York-style approach," and the entire restaurant and bar will be renovated, with more booth added to the dining room.
"I'm honored that Robert has the confidence in me to continue the legacy he built here in Milwaukee and I'm looking forward to updating it to make it my own while keeping its original integrity," said Ward in the statement. "John Hawks is a Milwaukee landmark and it's great to be leading its rebirth for future success."
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.