By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Jul 08, 2013 at 11:03 AM

Even if you're paying close attention, it's sometimes difficult to keep up with the latest in food news here in Milwaukee. So here's a taste of what's new and notable – including news about a brand new restaurant coming to Wauwatosa, a Sprecher disaster relief effort, and the return of the Jeppa Joe’s food cart.

Lowlands Group seeks to open Harmony Tavern
The Village of Wauwatosa will soon have yet another restaurant, according to information submitted to the City of Wauwatosa Planning Commission by the Lowlands Restaurant Group.

Developer Sean Phelan purchased the space adjacent to Cafe Hollander at 7700 Harwood Ave. in May, and expressed plans to locate a restaurant there. It appears that Phelan has since reached an agreement with Mike Eitel, owner of the Lowlands Group.

According to the information submitted to the City, redevelopment of the two-story building will include a restaurant and bar called Harmony Tavern on the first floor with "a limited but unique menu, high-end cocktails, wine and beer," as well as a patio space next to the building.

Lowlands Group also owns Cafe Centraal, Cafe Benelux, Trocadero and Cafe Hollander on Downer Avenue.

The Wauwatosa Plan Commission will discuss the requested conditional use permit for the business at their meeting later today.

Get in a "Dairy State of Mind"
MKEfoodies and Slow Food Wisconsin Southeast are joining forces to bring Milwaukee a celebration of Artisan and Farmstead Cheese.

The event is being held in anticipation of the 30th annual  American Cheese Society Conference and Festival of Cheese in Madison, July 31-Aug. 3. The conference, the annual theme of which is "In a Dairy State of Mind," attracts cheesemakers and cheese industry professionals from around the country.

Socialize with Wisconsin cheese makers, including Ron Henningfeld from Milwaukee’s Clock Shadow Creamery, Cesar Luis of Cesar’s Cheese in Random Lake, and Andy Hatch from Dodgeville’s Uplands Cheese.

Nibbles will include Wisconsin artisancheese donated by Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, bread from Rocket Baby Bakery, salami from Bolzano Artisan Meats, and pecans from Treat Bake Shop.  A cash bar will be provided by Great Lakes Distillery.

Attendees will also have the opportunity to learn more about the American Cheese Society and the Festival of Cheese, which takes place on August 3, 2013 in Madison.

Advance tickets are $10 and can be purchased online. A limited number of tickets will be available at the door for $15. Cost is non-refundable and all proceeds will be donated to an Education Fund supporting aspiring cheese makers to earn their Wisconsin certification.  All attendees will be entered to win one of two pairs of tickets to the ACS Festival of Cheese in Madison on Aug. 3 (a $110 value).

Sprecher hosts disaster relief fundraiser this week
On July 11, from 6 to 9 p.m., Sprecher Brewing Company, 701 W. Glendale Ave., will host a disaster relief benefit to help the folks in Oklahoma, Colorado, and Arizona rebuild their lives and communities in the wake of their recent tornadoes and wildfires.

The event, priced affordably at $20 per person, will include two beers, unlimited soda, heavy appetizers from area restaurants, including Larry’s Market, Bartolotta’s, Cubanitas, and live music from Milwaukee artists Katie Lafond and Ethan Keller. Additional beer, wine, cocktails, and Sprecher bratwurst made by Nieukirchen Sausages will be available for purchase. Cocktails options will include collaborative Great Lakes-Sprecher creations, including The Milwaukee Mule, renamed especially for the occasion.

Silent auction items will include special tours of Sprecher Brewing and Great Lakes Distillery with owners  Randy Sprecher and Guy Rehorst, event rentals from the Astor Hotel and Sprecher Brewing, a one-night stay at the Iron Horse Hotel, and a variety of gift cards from area restaurants and venues.

"This event, which we’re calling Draughts for Disasters, is a great example of local talent and businesses pooling together because we care. It’s a win-win.," said Anne Sprecher, who is organizing the event.

"We’re leveraging our resources to help folks who’ve recently experienced almost incomprehensible devastation. Sticking with that theme, the power of local resources, we will send whatever money we raise to the following two non-profits that are working in and with the local communities – Operation USA for Oklahoma, Pikes Peak Community Foundation: Black Forest Fire Fund for Colorado, and the 100 Club of Arizona."

Maker of award-winning beers and gourmet sodas, Sprecher Brewing Company is Milwaukee’s first brewery since Prohibition.  Established in 1985, Sprecher remains a leader in Wisconsin’s craft brewing industry.

Tall Guy and a Grill settles in Tosa
Saturday, July 13 marks the grand opening for Tall Guy with a Grill at its new brick and mortar location at 7227 W. North Ave. in Wauwatosa.

Owned by Dan Nowak, Tall Guy And a Grill Catering specializes in traditional Sicilian dishes passed down to Nowak from his grandparents, who came to the States in 1921. Nowak boasts nearly 10 years of restaurant experience and an extensive knowledge of grilling techniques, both of which assist him in preparing affordable, accessible food for just about any occasion.

The Tall Guy with a Grill space will be "a bit of a hybrid spot," according to Nowak. "We'll have some retail items for sale in the front of the store ... I'm also in the process of contacting local food businesses to sell some of there products as well. We also plan on having cooking classes and kitchen hours so that local food businesses can rent out the space and prepare the food for sale at farmer's markets and local grocers. I'm hopeful that I can eventually get a liquor/beer license too so i can do some tasting events and pairings with cooking classes."

The grand opening has something for everyone. Come hungry so you can sample breakfast items from from 8 until 11 a.m., including two or four breakfast meatballs with bourbon maple syrup and a sweet potato biscuit for $4 or $5, respectively.

From 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., enjoy a lunch of bourbon barbeque pork meatballs with South Carolina slaw and onion straws served on a pretzel slider roll. Sliders are $3 or two for $5. Augment your lunch with Spindrift sodas, all natural kettle chips, or a variety of Wisconsin made cookies, including breakfast, chocolate chunk and white chocolate cherry.

Tours of the company’s commercial kitchen will be available for local food entrepreneurs who might wish to rent the facilities on an hourly basis. And Limited quantities of Tall Guy and a Grill retail items will be available at the opening, including disposable tailgate kits, picnic basket sets, and grilling utensil sets. 

The return of Jeppa Joes
If you’ve been lusting after the delicious banh mi or Korean beef from the Jeppa Joes food cart, which shut down after owner Jeff Steckel moved to Madison in late June, you’ll be delighted to know that the cart has a new owner.

Jarid Bacon and his wife, Sarah Duhr, have taken over ownership of the cart. Bacon, who hails from Arizona, has worked in restaurants for the last 20 years. A graduate of the New England Culinary Institute, he has worked in a variety of restaurants across the U.S., including the Pasta Tree on Milwaukee’s east side.

Although Bacon plans to keep the Jeppa Joes menu intact, he says he’ll also be adding a few additional signature items that will all be house made, fresh and local. Specific items mentioned include a daily agua fresco and house made sides and chips.

"Nothing set in stone, an evolving menu with a core," Bacon says, "... More sandwiches and items to take with you, like Jeppa spiced nuts. We want the community to have input as to what Jeppa Joes menu will serve," he says. "We always encourage the community to share their thoughts and ideas and love for food with us on Twitter and Facebook."

He also says that they’ll stay true to the philosophy of fresh and local for which Jeppa Joes is known.

"When I first started cooking in New England,  the restaurant I worked at – Peyton Place at the Mann Tavern – grew all of their own produce and proteins were all sourced from farms no more than 50 miles from us." Bacon recounts. "Farmers would bring us coolers full of their harvest and we would then trade services. It was such a rewarding feeling to harvest goods that day and serve them that night. We will be doing our best to keep these practices going at Jeppa Joes, support the Wisconsin farmers and give the community of Milwaukee what it deserves."

Beginning in about two weeks, you’ll again be able to find the Jeppa Joes cart on Mondays and Wednesdays outside the U.S. Bank building at 777 E. Wisconsin Ave., at Schlitz Park on Tuesdays, the Milwaukee County Courthouse on Thursdays and Friday s at Red Arrow Park.  In addition, Bacon says he’ll offer late-night eats one or two nights a week.

Follow the adventures of the Jeppa Joes cart, as usual, on Twitter and Facebook. And check out their new catering menu at

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.