By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Oct 30, 2015 at 10:02 AM Photography: Bobby Tanzilo

For the ninth straight year, October is Dining Month on OnMilwaukee, presented by the restaurants of Potawatomi Hotel & Casino. All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, dining guides, delectable features, chef profiles and unique articles on everything food, as well as voting for your "Best of Dining 2015."

As soon as Dec. 1, the space just north of Mo’s Irish Pub at 725 N. Plankinton Ave. – once home to Mo's Cucina Italian restaurant – will be a great place to enjoy a local brew.

The new venue, which will be called the Wisconsin Tap Room, is the brainchild of restaurateur John Vassallo (Johnny V), who says the restoration of the building has been rewarding.

"It was originally built in 1907 with the idea that it would be used as a department store," he notes. "It was state of the art at the time, and contains over 600 windows. But, they never found a tenant. So, from the 1920s until when I bought it, it was a mishmash of different businesses."

Now, the upper floors of the building contain newly renovated MKE Lofts, and the street-level space will provide Milwaukeeans with a hip watering hole at which they can quench their thirst for local brews.

Decor will be industrial, Vassallo says, featuring concrete bar rails, brick and steel detail and custom made light fixtures.  

The bar itself will seat about 24, with a bit of additional seating available at high-top tables. A beer list will boast 24 taps from breweries exclusively in Wisconsin, and the venue will host a variety of beer tastings and tap takeovers. Happy hour, which will run from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday will feature 22 beers for $2.22 each.

To start, the menu from Mo’s Irish Pub will be available to guests who wish to order food. But, beginning early next year, Tap Room guests will also have access to a smaller menu which features a variety of Wisconsin cheeses and Wisconsin-based products for purchase.

Meanwhile, the lobby of the former Caswell Building (also known as the Posner) will be restored to its former glory, and the space will become an indoor beer garden, complete with picnic table-style seating, with access to both Mo’s Irish Pub and the Wisconsin Tap Room.

"It’s going to be a cool little space where you can hang out with friends," says Vassallo. "You’ll have access to the beer from both venues. You just have to go up to the counter, order your beer and then take a seat."

Both the Wisconsin Tap Room and the beer garden spaces will both be available as rentals for private parties.

The Wisconsin Tap Room, which is expected to open Dec. 1, will be open daily from 3 p.m. to midnight.

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.