Lowlands Group hires chef Thomas Hauck to head culinary program, menu development

Owned c. 1880 for six years, receiving multiple James Beard nominations

Photo by Kevin J. Miyazaki
Photo by Kevin J. Miyazaki

The recent closure of c. 1880 in Walker’s Point marked the end of an era for chef and restaurateur Thomas Hauck, but a new era will begin later this month as he takes on the role of culinary director for Milwaukee-based restaurant operator Lowlands Group.

Hauck will join the group– which owns Café Benelux in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward, Café Centraal in Bay View, Café Bavaria in Wauwatosa, and Café Hollander in Milwaukee, Wauwatosa, Mequon and Brookfield– after operating c. 1880, located at 1100 S.1st St. in Milwaukee, for six years.

Last month, he announced his decision to close the restaurant, because he could not financially afford to renew the lease and keep it open. The restaurant had its last day of service on April 28.

In 2016, Hauck took over downtown Milwaukee’s iconic German restaurant Karl Ratzsch, which failed and shut down in April of 2017, forcing him to file for bankruptcy.

Despite his financial struggles, Hauck received multiple recognitions for his culinary work at c. 1880, including James Beard Award nominations for Best Chef Midwest in 2016, 2017, and this year. 

“Closing c. 1880 was one of the toughest decisions I’ve had to make, but joining Lowlands was one of the easiest,” Hauck said. “I like the people, I like the culture, and I’m excited about the direction we’re taking the culinary program.”

In his new role, Hauck will oversee the development of Lowlands’ 12 total menus– three for each of its four concepts. He will work with the chefs and culinary staff at the group’s eight restaurants to seasonally update their menu selections in the spring and fall, as both patrons’ tastes and produce availability changes.

“We are a growing organization and we brought Thomas in to set ourselves up for culinary growth,” said Dan Herwig, director of brand and marketing at the Lowlands Group. “He will help us continue to innovate by bringing new ideas to the plate– literally. When we look at our growth going forward, we want someone driving our culinary vision.”

Hauck will also travel to Belgium and the Netherlands in September with over 20 other Lowlands employees to conduct research on food, beer and design for upcoming menus. He will assume his role in late May, and will spend his first few months learning about the company and its culture, building relationships with its culinary staff, and researching future menus. 

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Maredithe has covered retail, restaurants, entertainment and tourism since 2018. Her duties as associate editor include copy editing, page proofing and managing work flow. Meyer earned a degree in journalism from Marquette University and still enjoys attending men’s basketball games to cheer on the Golden Eagles. Also in her free time, Meyer coaches high school field hockey and loves trying out new restaurants in Milwaukee.

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