After 24 years serving up bowls of delicious soup and freshly baked bread, Soup Brothers, 209 W. Florida St., has made the decision to close its doors.
Owner Richard Regner says the decision was a personal one.
“I had a great run,” he says. “I loved it. It served up so many positive notes for me. But, I didn’t want to watch it slowly fade away. So it was time to close the doors.”
Regner, who opened the whimsical soup shop well before Walker’s Point became known as a food destination says the changing neighborhood, challenges related to the pandemic and the desire to simply move on after dedicating his entire career to the restaurant industry all played a role in the decision.
“When I went in there, Walker’s Point was so different. There were tumbleweeds blowing down the street. But I saw the spot and envisioned what it could be, and it took off. There was a line out the door.
“It was interesting to watch the area change. Peggy [Magister] moved into the old Zer Krone. Then Dave Swanson built Braise and Morel took over a building that had been a revolving door for so many years. And then all of a sudden Second Street was built up, and it had become a food mecca.”
Regner says the COVID-19 pandemic was rough, largely because the restaurant had to adjust to losing the lunch crowd in the area as more folks worked from home.
"We had a really good customer base, but I’m 67 and it was time," he says. “I just really want to go out on a good note.”
Boo-Boo’s to remain open
Fans of Soup Brothers’ signature soups – including their popular red pepper bisque and cheddar and Bermuda onion soup – are in luck. Those two soups will live on at Regner’s second business, Boo-Boo’s Sandwich Shop, 405 S. Second St., which will remain open.
"Boo-Boo’s has really taken off,” says Regner. “And I have a great team working there. So that will continue.”
The sandwich shop has made a few adjustments to their menu as a result of the Soup Brothers closure. For instance, they can no longer source the soup shop’s housemade bread for their sandwiches. However, Regner says they’ve found a really great substitute from Breadsmith, which will be delivered fresh every day.
“We tested out a lot of different types of bread,” says Regner. “And this one is a really great substitute.”
Grab a piece of Soup Bros.
Soup Brothers will live on in the hearts of many – not only for its delicious soup, but also for its atmosphere, which was unlike any other spot in the city.
The tiny shop, which was just large enough to accommodate a few small tables, was beloved as much for its quirky atmosphere as it was for its soup. Walls, hung with string lights and a varied collection of odds and ends – from creepy dolls and corded telephones to old electronics, vases, a lava lamp and countless pieces of retro paraphernalia – provided something new to discover at every turn.
And while the restaurant has closed, guests who’d like to preserve good memories by taking home a piece of the shop's nostalgia are in luck.
Beginning this week, Regner says Soup Brothers will also be putting out all the curiosities on display at Boo-Boo’s Sandwich Shop. Guests can peruse the items, which will be displayed both inside and outside the cafe, and take them home if desired. Some will be free. Others will be available for a minimal charge.
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.