The Brown Bottle closes after GM departure

Schlitz Park owners considering next steps

Schlitz Park

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:21 pm

The Brown Bottle bar in the Schlitz Park office complex near downtown Milwaukee has closed indefinitely following the departure of its general manager.

Schlitz Park

In a email sent out Monday morning to Schlitz Park tenants and stakeholders, the owners of the office complex said the bar, which has been a part of Milwaukee’s history on and off since 1938, was closed “effective today” as they decide what’s next for the tavern space.

The owners added they are in the meantime providing tenants with pop-up restaurant options, considering a new coffee bar operator, and have plans to give the venue a “new and improved look” later this year.

“Unfortunately, the current general manager has resigned and moved on to other endeavors, creating a natural inflection point for us to explore what the next iteration of The Brown Bottle will be,” wrote the owner group, which consists of Detroit-based Crestlight Capital and TPG Real Estate, the real estate platform of San Francisco and Fort Worth, Texas-based TPG.

The email later adds, “Effective today, The Brown Bottle will temporarily close while we spend time deciding what that next chapter will be. In the interim, we will be providing additional food options for Schlitz Park in the Stock-House from FOODA, a new concept that provides onsite pop-up restaurants with a daily changing menu. We are also exploring a new coffee bar operator and will have a solution shortly.”

Crestlight and TPG Real Estate officially closed on the acquisition of Schlitz Park in early February. State records show the joint venture purchased the 30.7-acre property for $101.25 million. They purchased the office complex from The Brewery Works, the development and ownership group led by the Grunau and Sampson families who bought the former Schlitz complex in 1983 and redeveloped it into an office park.

Schlitz Park reached 100 percent occupancy last year, following a $30 million renovation effort that included updating office, recreational and green spaces as well adding new amenities.

John Coury, principal at Crestlight, said in an interview shortly after the acquisition that the ownership group was considering making some changes. Specifically, he said more food and beverage options may be added.

The Schlitz Park owners noted in the email to tenants a main reason they bought the property is because of its history. The Brown Bottle, for its part, first began as a place for visitors to grab a drink after brewery tours. It had taken “many different twists and turns” since then, but has remained a part of the overall Schlitz Park experience, according to the email.

“We could not be more grateful for the opportunity to restore and shepherd this historic and unique venue into a new and improved look later this year,” the email reads.

A spokesperson said the owners had nothing further to add at this time beyond what was written in the email to tenants.

Nearly 3,500 employees work in Schlitz Park. The largest tenants, in terms of square footage being leased, are UMB, U.S. bank, HSA Bank, Aurora Health Care, Trusted Media Brands, iCare, National General Insurance, Infosys, Aecom and Badger Liquor.

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Alex Zank, former BizTimes Milwaukee reporter.

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