The Bartolotta Restaurants acquires full ownership of Harbor House

Harbor House's indoor bar and dining room. Photo courtesy of The Bartolotta Restaurants

Last updated on July 29th, 2022 at 01:23 pm

Downtown Milwaukee’s upscale seafood restaurant Harbor House is now fully owned by its operator, The Bartolotta Restaurants.

The Milwaukee-based hospitality group recently acquired sole ownership of the restaurant from an entity known as The Endeavors Group, which was led by the late entrepreneur and philanthropist Michael Cudahy who died in March at the age of 97.

Cudahy formed the entity in 2009 and partnered with The Bartolotta Restaurants to open Harbor House one year later at the former Pieces of Eight site on the lakefront. He and the late restauranteur Joe Bartolotta worked closely to design and launch what’s now considered one of the city’s premier fine dining spots.

Bartolotta died in 2019 at the age of 60. With the loss of the two local icons, “the time was right for transition to a new ownership structure,” the Bartolotta Restaurants said in a news release Wednesday.

“We are forever grateful to Mike Cudahy for his unwavering partnership,” said owner and co-founder Paul Bartolotta, pointing not only to his involvement with Harbor House, but also to the opening of Bacchus in 2004 on the ground floor of the Cudahy Tower as well as the group’s exclusive catering deal with Discovery World.

Cudahy spearheaded Discovery World’s development, from its original location in the Central Library to a larger facility adjacent to the Milwaukee Public Museum to its current home on the lakefront, contributing about $30 million to the project.

“Mike Cudahy had a vision for the lakefront that included both Discovery World and Harbor House, and he brought that vision to reality,” said Bryan Wunar, president and chief executive officer of Discovery World. “We are excited to carry his legacy forward together with The Bartolotta Restaurants, our partner at Discovery World since 2006, to further our love and commitment to the Milwaukee community. We look forward to a bright future along the waterfront.

Harbor House features an indoor dining room and bar, with an outdoor patio offering views of Lake Michigan and the city’s skyline. The menu focuses on New England-style seafood dishes, with a selection flown in daily from both coasts. It’s one of 18 Bartolotta-operated restaurants and catering properties across southeastern Wisconsin.

“As the time for transition has arrived, we are exceedingly pleased to hand the baton to Paul Bartolotta and the Bartolotta team, knowing that there is no one better to lead Harbor House into the future,” said Kevin Lindsey, Manager of The Endeavors Group. “On behalf of Mike Cudahy, I would like to thank all the employees of Harbor House, past and present, for all they have done to make this a great restaurant, and I thank the community for its patronage.”

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and four-month pause in operations, nine Bartolotta locations are currently open for business, including its newest lakefront concept, the Roundhouse at McKinley Marina. The counter-service restaurant opened July 20, serving light snacks as well as beer, wine and cocktails.

“As we reflect with heartfelt gratitude and appreciation on Mike and my beloved brother Joe, we carry the immense responsibility to build upon the legacy of these two Milwaukee giants, who made a lasting impact in the community by protecting, preserving, and enhancing the city’s most valuable asset – our beautiful lakefront,” said Paul Bartolotta.

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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