The former Refuge Smoothie Cafe is in for a transformation. In fact, as soon as late summer, the cafe – which once slung smoothies – will be the home of a brand new modern wine and cocktail bar.
Voyager, a venue named in memory of Carl Sagan and his work on the late 1970s Voyager missions, will be located at 422 E. Lincoln Ave.
It’s partnership between industry veterans Jordan Burich, Micah Buck and Kathryn Lochmann, each of whom are fueled by the excitement of culinary exploration and the pursuit of exceptional service.
Burich, a long-time bartender whose work touched the bars at Hinterland as well as Dandan/EsterEv, Burnhearts, Goodkind and Strange Town, is also the cofounder of the Italian pop-up series Sprezzatura and the wine tasting party series "Vine Society." Meanwhile, Buck got his start in area kitchens including Hinterland, Dandan and a variety of bars and restaurants in Chicago. Lochmann, an aspiring nurse practitioner and Buck’s spouse, will serve as the principal financier for the new venture.
"I’ve been trying to get a project off the ground for awhile now," remarks Burich. "For me, it started with Sprezzatura and kind of grew from there. This partnership came together naturally, and it seems like a step in the right direction for both Micah and I. Throughout our careers, the 'Buckster’ and I have been known for pushing creative boundaries and holding our work to its highest quality. Voyager is a continuation of that long-standing working relationship."
At its heart, Voyager will be a wine bar, where most selections will be available in at least three sizes (2-ounce, standard 5-ounce, and carafe or half bottle) in addition to full bottles. But Burich says the venue will take a modern approach to wine that focuses on exploration and the joy of discovery.
"I really don’t want to carry anything that’s super outrageous in terms of affordability," he says. "This is more about getting good wine into the hands of good people. The goal is to show the conviviality that drinking good wine can bring. We always say that discovering wine is a life-long journey; we learn something new about it everyday and we want to pass that on to our guests."
In addition to wine, Voyager will showcase seasonal, culinary-inspired cocktails as well as a small food menu, which Burich says will feature items that pair well with wine (think charcuterie and cheese plates and bruschetta). It will also include a number of items made by the folks in the kitchen at Fauntleroy, the forthcoming French restaurant in the Third Ward.
Voyager will also showcase a retail area where there will be wine accessories and magazines and various sundries including imported olive oil (a Milwaukee first) and beans from Isely Coffee Roasters in Door County. The venue will also host weekly wine tastings.
"There are some really iconic and successful businesses surrounding us, and we’re excited to be in the middle of all of it." says Buck, "We want this to be a neighborhood spot, a comfortable place for people of all backgrounds to unwind and enjoy a great glass of wine or one of Jordy’s cocktails."
Watch OnMilwaukee for additional details as they become available.
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.