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Design course
It’s not just food that propels a new restaurant into popularity.
Interior design is just as tantalizing.

By KRISTINE HANSEN

 

C. 1880, designed by Libby and Patrick Castro of LP/w Design Studios.

Three new Walker’s Point eateries embrace late-1800s décor with cutting-edge design that relies upon craftsmanship using mostly salvaged materials. Flashy, showy accents akin to many urban dining rooms are discarded in favor of a cozy ambiance that’s in perfect pitch with its farm-to-table approach.

When c. 1880 chef/owner Thomas Hauck — a Culinary Institute of America grad who cooked at Citronelle in Washington, D.C., and Mason Street Grill — hired designers Libby and Patrick Castro of LP/w Design Studios in Fox Point, the three decided to tap into the Industrial Revolution. Tying into the year electricity was invented — also the date of the building — lights drape below the ceiling on hooks, creating an orange glow at night. Bay View furniture artist Matt Connell crafted tables out of Douglas Fir to match Wishbone chairs and distressed-wood flooring. Wooden crates from Brightonwoods Orchard house liquor bottles. Framed patents of various inventions, along with historic Milwaukee images, are hung on ivory walls. But the penultimate are above the bar and in the front room: softly muted art featuring Milwaukee during the late 1880s. In back, tufted-leather banquettes surround a fireplace with glass apothecary jars on its mantel. "Everything has this feel of being made just for you," says Libby Castro, pointing to the glass-beaker Chemex coffee makers, a definite precursor to drip makers and espresso machines, and a nod to Hauck’s love for inventing (he tinkers with molecular gastronomy, dehydrating, canning, sous-vide and pickling).


Braise, designed by Paul Sherrer of Think Drawer.

Two blocks west, Braise — the farm-to-table restaurant supporting chef/owner Dave Swanson’s growing empire of a cooking school and Community Supported Agriculture project — retains that same Old Milwaukee feel. Paul Sherrer of Think Drawer was hired to execute Swanson’s vision, using wood rescued from a Burlington barn for walls in the lounge that are nicely offset with original Cream City brick. Tables were constructed from what used to be bowling lanes in the now-closed adjacent bowling alley. Former church pews are also used for seating. Beneath the bartop, once subflooring in that same bowling alley, are collages of vintage, handwritten recipes and photos of farm-fresh food torn from the now-defunct Gourmet. Mason jars are interspersed with liquor bottles within a bar wall constructed from local barn wood, and reappear as light pendants above a bar counter just outside the open kitchen.


INdustri Café, designed by Flux Design.

Flux Design was tapped to work on Walker’s Point eatery INdustri Café, which opened in early 2011. INdustri debuted a private dining room this spring that seats up to 18 people — and is a new hot spot for business lunches. With the original metal freight-elevator door on one wall, it’s in perfect pitch with the building’s history, which dates to the 1880s when it was Milwaukee Tool & Machine Shop. Flux Design also created a half wall between the bar and dining room that’s an artful mix of salvaged woods and iron work, with mesh metal squares on top that allow light to shine through, yet give diners privacy. It’s a stylish sibling to the wall separating the dining room from the private room, with recycled stained-glass windows laid between wood panels and metal strips.