Mequon-based dog food maker Fromm Nieman Brands Inc. and its affiliate Foxtown Brewing delighted beer and dog lovers alike in early November when it announced plans to develop a 28,000-square-foot, three-story building in downtown Milwaukee that will include a restaurant, taproom and distillery, and plenty of pup-friendly outdoor spaces.
Dubbed Foxtown Landing, the development will be built on a long-vacant site northeast of West St. Paul and North Plankinton avenues along the Milwaukee River and is being planned in conjunction with the proposed Downtown Dog Park site, which would be located on an adjacent parcel.
“Milwaukee is rich in history, as is the Fromm brand and our family,” said Tom Nieman, president of Fromm Family Pet Food, when the Foxtown project was announced. “When we learned about the dog park project, we began exploring the larger opportunity to develop a true ‘dog district’ where people and their pets can gather along the river at the nexus of where the Historic Third Ward and downtown meet. With dog ownership rapidly increasing in recent years in the greater downtown area, we see this as a natural fit for us and a game changer for the city of Milwaukee.”
The new brewery and its connection to the dog park is a way to expand the Fromm Family Foods presence in downtown, while introducing more diners to Foxtown Brewing, said Jim Glassford, marketing and business development advisor at Fromm Nieman Brands. Foxtown currently has a single location in Mequon.
In recognition of its continued growth across the region, Fromm Nieman Brands is the BizTimes Milwaukee 2022 Best in Business Family-owned Business of the Year.
Fromm Family Foods is the title sponsor of the future off-leash dog park, which will be located on a long vacant site under the I-794 freeway between the Milwaukee River and Plankinton Avenue, just north of the Foxtown Landing site and south of West Clybourn Street.
“Fromm has a 10-year history of hosting Fromm Petfest at Henry Maier Festival Park in conjunction with Milwaukee World Festival. (That one-day event) brings thousands of pets and people to the lakefront each fall,” Glassford said. “Fromm’s involvement with Milwaukee Downtown and the Historic Third Ward BID’s dog park project will complement Petfest by providing a 365 day a year ‘dog district’ in the heart of downtown.”
Designed by Milwaukee-based GRAEF, the dog park plans call for separately fenced small and large dog areas, water stations, upgraded lighting, the potential for public art, opportunities for community programming, prominent donor recognition, and other pet amenities. The overall project would also be tied together by a nearly 400-foot segment of new public RiverWalk.
“This is a generational opportunity to reinvent a long-dormant, underutilized but highly visible area of downtown into what will be a true destination that enhances downtown’s quality of life and bridges the gap between the Historic Third Ward and Westown neighborhoods,” said Matt Dorner, economic development director of the Milwaukee Downtown Business Improvement District.
While Fromm Nieman Brands has been in the specialty pet food business for generations, Foxtown Brewing is still a relatively new venture for the family. But what the two efforts share, said Glassford, is a “vision of being the best, not necessarily the biggest.”
“Both brands provide high-quality, carefully crafted products to pet parents and beer (and food) lovers. Whether it’s pet food or beer and pub fare, the common mantra is quality first,” he added.
For both businesses, 2022 was a year of continued adjustments in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Foxtown managed through the challenges of 2022 by focusing on quality products, customer service and safety for staff and customers alike,” Glassford said.
Fromm managed through supply chain challenges “by doubling down on the long-term relationships” with its suppliers, he said.
“We did have to take price adjustments on our pet foods, but we maintained a consistent source of supply for our distributors, retailers and consumers throughout 2022,” Glassford said. “As we look forward to 2023, we see the potential for continued pressure on material and energy costs, however, we are confident we will weather these challenges and continue to provide high-quality dog and cat foods and treats to our pet parents.”