By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published May 31, 2022 at 11:36 AM

It was January when Benson’s Restaurant Group announced that they would be opening a brand new riverfront restaurant concept at the new R1VER development on South 1st Street.

Today, the newly rebranded hospitality group announced the name and concept for restaurant, which is slated to open early this fall just beneath the Tribute apartments on the east side of the evolving R1VER campus.

The Bridgewater Modern Grill

The Bridgewater Modern Grill, which has been designed in collaboration with RINKA Architecture, is slated to seat over 165 guests inside, plus an additional 80 on its 245-foot-long riverside patio. The outdoor area will be heated for three-season use and will feature an indoor/outdoor bar, green space activation zone and 10 boat slips for drive-up service.

Inside, the Bridgewater kitchen will feature a custom oak-fed Jade grill, which will be used to bring nuanced flavors to the menu. Intentionally-sourced ingredients will form the foundation for the menu, which will also include a robust wine program. 

“The Bridgewater Modern Grill’s full concept is coming to life,” noted David Marcus, CEO of Benson’s Restaurant Group. “The restaurant will offer an experience unlike any other in the area. While it’ll have an upscale, inviting atmosphere, it’s not just for special occasions.

"With the combination of indoor/outdoor dining, there is space for everyone -– whether celebrating an engagement or graduation, or just looking for a place to grab good food or a drink on the river. With the design help of RINKA, we’ve created an unparalleled experience that is going to be the coolest spot on the river.”

Inside and out

Inside The Bridgewater guests will experience comfortable booths overlooking an open kitchen. A private dining area for up to 30 guests will also be available for gatherings and corporate events. 

The exterior space, overlooking the Kinnickinnic River with access to the public riverwalk will feature bar and table seating, along with a social patio lounge featuring soft seating, fire tables and cocktail service. 

Outdoor loungeX

Meanwhile, a 1300 square foot lawn will augment one of the largest (and potentially longest) riverfront patios in the city.

In addition to the restaurant and apartments, the R1VER development includes office and retail space, hotel plans and 1,000 ft. of public river walk.

Listen to our FoodCrush Podcast conversation with David Marcus for more about Benson's Restaurant Group and the idea behind the new restaurant concept.

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor

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.