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CASTLE MALTING NEWS in partnership with French
20 November, 2022

Brewing news USA, WI: Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery closes in downtown Milwaukee

Rock Bottom, the brewpub that opened 25 years ago in a plum location along downtown Milwaukee's RiverWalk, has closed, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on November 18.

By Thursday, November 17 the large restaurant space at 740 N. Plankinton Ave., in River Bank Plaza, was listed for lease with Colliers commercial real estate company.

Russ Sagmoen, listed with Isaac Berg as agents, said Rock Bottom apparently has been closed since Tuesday, November 15.

The listing shows that the restaurant covers 17,200 square feet, including 6,700 square feet of private-event space on the lower level.

Sagmoen noted that the floors above the restaurant space, previously offices, are being converted to 133 apartments by developer 3L Real Estate of Chicago. 3L also has converted the former Blue Cross Blue Shield headquarters at 401 W. Michigan St. to the 207-unit Buckler Apartments and the former Wells Fargo Building at 735 W. Wisconsin Ave. into the 144-unit 735 West Apartments.

Customers might say the restaurant and brewery site's biggest draw is the expansive patio on the RiverWalk, beside the Milwaukee River.

Sagmoen, in an email, called it "an iconic location that everyone knows in Milwaukee."

Rock Bottom was among the early major restaurant and nightlife destinations to open along the RiverWalk after the city expanded pedestrian access along the river, drawing new condos and apartments to downtown in the mid-1990s.

Rock Bottom opened in Milwaukee in March 1997, brewing its beer at the restaurant.

The closing has left the chain of brewpubs with 15 restaurants nationally; Rock Bottom got its start in Denver in 1991, and the largest number of remaining restaurants is in Colorado, with five.

Rock Bottom's location in Minneapolis closed in October.

Coincidentally, another Milwaukee brewpub on the RiverWalk, almost as old as the Rock Bottom location, also closed this year. Milwaukee Ale House, the original home of Milwaukee Brewing Co., opened a few months after Rock Bottom in 1997 in the Third Ward; the Ale House closed in September.

The Rock Bottom chain has been a property of Houston-based SPB Hospitality since 2020, after Craftworks Holdings filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

SPB Hospitality did not immediately respond to a request for more information about the closing.

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