By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Oct 06, 2011 at 8:56 AM

It's a foodie's dream job: owning and running your own restaurant. But the economic realities of the hyper-competitive restaurant business can be far from dreamy – even if your menu is top-notch.

Meeting with success in a business where success is rare, failure is common and every shift is an adventure takes creativity, dedication, time and patience. But, for the right person, owning a restaurant can be rewarding, exhilarating and educational. Yes, even a dream come true.

If you found yourself nodding your head to all of the above, Michael Diedrick, owner of The National, might have a once-in-a-lifetime deal for you.

The National can be easily missed if you're not looking for it. But, if you've ever taken the National Avenue/6th Street exit from I-43 to get to Walker's Point, you've likely driven past this deliciously funky neighborhood cafe.

Currently open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., The National offers breakfast, brunch and lunch along with a slew of bakery items. With an emphasis on sustainability, The cafe seeks out every opportunity to bring in local ingredients, from vegetables and dairy to eggs and locally raised sustainable meats, coffee, beer and soda.

But, The National is more than a restaurant – it's a project driven by community. It's an investment in the Walker's Point neighborhood. In fact, on any given morning you're likely to find a handful of neighborhood folks sipping coffee and discussing the latest in local news and views.

You're also likely to see community activism in action – whether it's local politicians and business owners coming together for a coffee meeting, or artists grabbing a bite to eat between projects.

And that's where the $100 dream comes in.

When The National opened its doors in 2008, the mission was to create a great neighborhood cafe, and then find an owner who had a great vision and sell it to that person at a big discount to get him or her started. Three years later, that time has come. The National has invested over $100,000 into the cafe, and Diedrick is now ready to find the right owner. Could that new owner be you?

The process for the buyer is simple:

  1. Learn more at the website
  2. Use the price form to see the terms and their associated costs.
  3. Fill out the Take a Tour form to set up an appointment to get a backstage tour.
  4. Enter an offer including price and terms by Oct. 31 at 11:59 p.m.
  5. Interviews and vetting will happen through Nov. 4.
  6. The new owner (and backup owner) will be chosen by Nov. 7 at 5 p.m.
  7. Training and support will happen from Nov. 11 until full takeover
  8. Full takeover will be Dec. 1.

"We built The National from the ground up to have a new owner," said  Diedrick. "We have a full staff and manager in place that will stay with the new owner, and support to ensure a smooth transition. We started with a clear mission of investing and building a great cafe in a great neighborhood, and now it's time to move that story forward."

Time to pursue your dream? Visit for more details.

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.