By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Apr 02, 2019 at 8:02 AM

In mid-May, John Sidoff, who has owned the beloved German bar Von Trier since 2009, will hand off the business to Mark Zierath, owner of Jackson's Blue Ribbon Pub, 1203 N. 10th St.

Zierath, who started going to Von Trier a few decades ago with his father, says he’s very excited to take over the Milwaukee classic and will make very few changes to the bar. He does, however, plan to expand the kitchen in order to include lunch service as well as a Friday fish fry menu.

"We'll have multiple variations of a very traditional Milwaukee fish fry," says Zierath. "And we’ll rotate in fish fry specials every week, too."

Currently, Zierath is considering two different plans for the kitchen expansion, but will most likely choose to relocate the main floor restrooms to make room for the larger food area.

"We are going to stick with the longstanding tradition of Von Trier being the great German beer hall that it is," says Zierath.

Zierath, who will also open soon open Ella's Public House in the Town of Genesee, says the only other significant change he has planned for Von Trier is to include more craft cocktails made with Great Lakes Distillery spirits.

"They’re local and have a great product," he says.

Both Sidoff and Zierath stressed their commitment to preserving Von Trier well into the future. In 2017, Sidoff announced his intention to transform the German tavern into a "an upscale, classic cocktail lounge with a mid-century vibe." Thousands of people signed a petition asking for the bar to stay the same and Sidoff later retracted his remodeling plans. 

"I had no idea how many people truly wanted to see Von Trier thrive during the North Avenue renaissance," Sidoff told OnMilwaukee at the time. "The outpouring of support, visitors and personal messages was overwhelming."

Sidoff, who has more than 40 years of bar experience, says he decided it was finally time to retire. He also believes that to continue to thrive in the changing East Side neighborhood Von Trier needed to offer more food – specifically a fish fry –and knew he just wasn't the guy to do it.

"I am really happy that Von Trier is going to this guy (Mark). He understands the market, the neighborhood and the history of Von Trier," says Sidoff. "I’ve had a great time in the business, but it will be nice to never look at another Yelp review ever again."

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.