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Bass Bay Brewhouse in Muskego to open in July, with a Milwaukee chef as a partner
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel |
June 22, 2015

Bass Bay Brewhouse in Muskego is opening in mid-July with a supper club legacy and a notable Milwaukee chef as a partner: Kurt Fogle, currently the executive pastry chef for Carnevor and other SURG restaurants.

The restaurant, at the site of the former Aud-Mar Supper Club, will tie together elements of Wisconsin supper clubs and casual American dining.

Fogle, who also is a full-time instructor for MATC's culinary program, is leaving the SURG group Friday to join longtime friend Ryan Oschmann and Andy Meinen, a friend of Oschmann's since childhood, in opening the casual restaurant.

Oschmann operated the Eatery on Farwell from 2010 to 2014, and Andy Meinen, friends with Oschmann since childhood, is the owner of two Jimmy John's shops, in Delafield and Muskego.

The fourth partner is Laurie Oschmann, Ryan Oschmann's mother, who operated Aud-Mar in its supper club days and owns the property.

The business is twofold: The upstairs banquet hall, now called Aud Mar Banquets on the Bay, has been renovated and is booked most Saturdays the rest of summer with weddings, Ryan Oschmann said.

Bass Bay Brewhouse initially will serve dinner in that space Wednesdays to Fridays and brunch on Sundays until its permanent home on the lower level is completed this summer. It then will serve dinner Wednesdays to Saturdays and Sunday brunch.

The restaurant, at S79-W15851 Aud Mar Drive, has a patio overlooking Bass Bay, beside Big Muskego Lake.

Classics on the menu

The menu will offer simple, classic dishes, said Fogle: pot roast and pan-roasted chicken with onions and mushrooms, for instance, as well as burgers, a Southern-style fried-chicken sandwich with mayo and pickles, and a Friday fish fry.

"I want to make the pot roast the best pot roast I can imagine," he said. "We're going to put everything we've got into it." Likewise, Fogle has been refining a recipe for fried fish that keeps the coating crisp even after it's packed into a takeout container.

Fogle — who says author-director Ron Faiola's "Fish Fry Night Milwaukee" and "Wisconsin Supper Clubs" documentaries are two of his favorite movies — is a proponent of Wisconsin's dining traditions. "I'm afraid people are going to lose sight of where we come from," Fogle said.

Aud-Mar was a midcentury supper club that closed in 2007; Ryan Oschmann's grandparents opened it in 1958, and his parents began running it in 1985. 

Oschmann had the chance to take it over when he was 21 but felt he was too young; instead, he opened the Eatery, running it until losing the lease.

It made sense to return to his hometown and reopen the Muskego restaurant, with key changes, Oschmann said. The old Aud-Mar was a fine-dining setting thought of mainly for special occasions and Friday fish fry, Oschmann said, but the partners are designing Bass Bay Brewhouse to be a casual restaurant that customers would be visit more often.

Beer and cocktails

After his parents closed their Rheinlander brewpub, Meinen acquired the equipment for the Muskego restaurant. Dan Sterling, Fogle's brother-in-law, will be the brewer.

The goal is to have five house beers on tap eventually, but the restaurant will also serve craft beers from around the state and the country alongside cocktails. "I think we're going to make a pretty damn good old-fashioned," Fogle said.

Because the brewing operation won't be licensed for sales when the restaurant first opens, Bass Bay at first will give away samples of its beer to customers. 

Oschmann and Fogle met 13 years ago in Pewaukee, when Oschmann was a student buying sandwiches and Fogle was making them. Their plan always was to open a restaurant together, they said.

There's still work to be done before the opening of Bass Bay Brewhouse, though, like hiring staff. The part of the menu that Fogle (a French Pastry School graduate celebrated for his modern desserts) hasn't written yet? Dessert.

Photo courtesy of Ryan Oschmann