By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Aug 07, 2019 at 11:01 AM

The Lowlands Group has spent the better part of two years making updates to their venues, including Cafe Benelux, Cafe Hollander Tosa and (most dramatically) Cafe Centraal, as well as making improvements to its menus at the hand of culinary director and James Beard nominee, Chef Thomas Hauck.

And more changes are on the way. The group announced today that they will be reconcepting Cafe Bavaria, their Geramanic-themed cafe at 7700 Harwood Ave., transforming it into a new, Northwoods-inspired restaurant called The Buckatabon.

Guests have a few more months to enjoy their wurst and schnitzel at Cafe Bavaria, which will close in November to accommodate the transition.

The Buckatabon, which is slated to open sometime in early 2020, will mark a departure from Lowlands’ collection of European-inspired cafes. Described as "part Up North tavern, part lakeside lodge and part classic supper club," it will derive inspiration from the regional food and beverage traditions of Wisconsin.

Nods to the new venue have already been subtley imbued into the new Tosa Village Beer Garden, located at the Cafe Bavaria patio, which sports Badger-themed red and white patio accents. It’s not only a regional nod to the German heritage of the southeastern portion of the state, but also lays the foundation for a heavy focus on Wisconsin sports in the new concept.

"We find inspiration whenever we travel, whether that’s to Europe or a long weekend up north," noted Dan Herwig, director of brand and marketing at Lowlands Group in a release about the new concept. "While we’ve been in the ‘import’ business for quite a while, the fact of the matter is that Wisconsin is every bit as unique as any place we’ve ever been. We figured it was time to get into the ‘export’ business a bit, so to speak."

Northwoods inspired 

As for the menu at The Buckatabon, it will take inspiration from some of Wisconsin’s most iconic Northwoods’ venues, capturing the spirit of their unique, sometimes quirky, and often nostalgic offerings.

"There is so much food tradition scattered about the state," says Chef Hauck. "And we can’t wait to pull it all together in one place. It could be specific dishes like booyah stew from the northeast, broasted chicken dinners, or a classic fish fry, but we’re also interested in using ingredients unique to the state like wild rice, cranberries, cherries, and of course all of the amazing dairy we’re surrounded by. There is no shortage of inspiration."

On the beverage side, The Buckatabon will focus on Wisconsin-made products including beer, spirits and bitters. In addition to prerequisite options like Old Fashioneds and ice cream drinks, the venue’s cocktail program will also offer new twists on classics using both regionally-inspired flavors and ingredients.

Also in the plan are partnerships with several Northwoods supper clubs, taverns and lodges – including recipe-sharing, cross promotions and the adoption of unique traditions – to encourage the exploration of these off-the-beaten path locales.

"We’ve really wanted to do this concept for a while." notes Herwig. "But, we wanted to do it right, and in the right location. The stars have finally aligned and it’s perfect timing, as we’re spending this summer eating our way through everything above the 45th parallel as we finalize the menus."

Once open, The Buckatabon will offer both lunch and dinner on weekdays and brunch and dinner on weekends.

To accommodate the transition, Cafe Bavaria will close to the public in November, remaining open for private dining, events and holiday parties through the end of December. Those interested in scheduling private events are welcome to call (414) 627-2789 or visit

For updates on The Buckatabon, including notice of the official opening date in 2020, guests can sign up for the venue’s newsletter 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.