New tequilaria planned for former Water Buffalo space

Joins six other restaurants currently operated by Hospitality Democracy

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Blue Bat Kitchen & Tequilaria

Blue Bat Kitchen & Tequilaria (BBK), a new casual dining restaurant and tequila bar, will open soon in the Third Ward space formerly housing longtime restaurant Water Buffalo before it closed earlier this year. 

Milwaukee-based restaurant operator Hospitality Democracy plans to open BBK by late spring. It closed Water Buffalo in January after 11 years of operation, announcing via Facebook the closure and its plans to open a new concept in the space by April.

According to a news release, the new restaurant will serve globally-inspired bowls, tacos, snacks and salads and will feature an all-day happy hour in its lower-level bar, with tequila as its staple.

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“We’ll feature a fresh flavorful menu heavy on nostalgia, in a relaxed and casual environment that pairs perfectly with Milwaukee’s very first Tequilaria,” Joe Sorge, Hospitality Democracy co-founder said in the release.

BBK’s casual atmosphere will echo the laid-back environment found in coastal beach towns. Milwaukee-based Flux Design is renovating the space, which will feature an outdoor back patio bordering the Riverwalk.

“The name plays with the origins of tequila,” Angie Sorge, Hospitality Democracy co-founder said in the release. “Blue, due to the Blue Agave plants that can produce certified tequila. Bat, because blue agave plants depend on bats for pollination. In fact, some bats have been brought back from the brink of extinction with the efforts of the tequila industry. The name is both playful and serious, just like the food, the tequila and the restaurant.”

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Hospitality Democracy, founded in 2000 by the Sorges, operates six other restaurants in Milwaukee: Onesto, Holey Moley, Swig, Smoke Shack, AJ Bombers and Zaffiro’s Pizzeria. The company partnered in 2011 with Milwaukee-based Marcus Investments, a Marcus Corp. offshoot, to further grow the business.

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