Honing his crafts
New restaurant owner hopes craft beer, burgers at Crafty Cow hit the spot

By Josh Perttunen - Enterprise Staff

August 21, 2014

Devin Eichler plans to offer10 different types of craft burgers and have 16 craft beers on tap at the Crafty Cow, which could open sometime this fall. He says plenty of new brews and burgers will rotate into the mix during the restaurantís lifetime.
Josh Perttunen/Enterprise Staff

OCONOMOWOC - The excitement is mounting for Devin Eichler, who plans to open the Crafty Cow restaurant and bar in downtown Oconomowoc this fall.

Whenever he is inside the building at 153 E. Wisconsin Ave. making his preparations, he can hear chatter from the sidewalk. Pedestrians note the sign on his door, which promises that a restaurant is coming soon, and are curious. 

"They wonder out loud what it's about and it gets me excited; I want to run out there and tell them all about it, but they are gone by the time I get out there," Eichler said. "I get antsy as I keep thinking of the things I can do to get the restaurant open faster."

The Crafty Cow will highlight craft beer - with a rotating selection of brews on 16 taps - and craft burgers, which are culinary creations that go beyond the traditional cheeseburger.

On Monday, Eichler, a 2009 Mukwonago High School alumnus, sat down to discuss his plans for the restaurant.

ENTERPRISE: What is your experience with craft beer and the restaurant business?

EICHLER: I've been working in restaurants since I was 14 years old; I've been a dishwasher, cook, server, cashier, head bartender and brewer. In college, I worked at a craft beer bar in Minneapolis that had 30 taps and 18 specialty sausages.

I work now as a brewer at Water Street Brewery in Delafield, where I have also been a server on the weekends.  This is in addition to homebrewing for three years.


ENTERPRISE: What was your first experience with craft beer?

EICHLER: I believe it was New Glarus Spotted Cow, which is the craft beer a lot of people in Wisconsin try first. I thought it had more flavor and more body than the beers produced by the macrobreweries.

After that, I went crazy with collecting craft beers. I have quite the collection at home.


ENTERPRISE: What is the best or most interesting beer you've tried recently?

EICHLER: It is a beer called the LSD (Lavender, Sunflower Honey and Dates) brewed by Indeed Brewing Company in Minneapolis. It smells like lavender, is sweet from the sunflower honey and there a little bit of bitterness from the dates.


ENTERPRISE: What is the best or most interesting beer you've brewed recently?

EICHLER: I made something called Griffin's Blood, which is a raspberry, chocolate and habanero stout.


ENTERPRISE: What is the philosophy that will set your bar and restaurant apart?

EICHLER: Our slogan is "get crafty." There are a few reasons for that. It's pretty obvious with the craft beer and the craft burgers, but we also want to invite local artists in to have their artwork displayed on the walls on a rotating basis. The Crafty Cow is all about being artistic and being different.

We have lots of cool stuff planned for the burgers, but want to be secretive until we get closer to opening.

One thing we are planning on doing is craft beer dinners where a four-course meal has each of the courses paired with a beer from the same brewery.


ENTERPRISE: Why did you decide to get into craft beers?

EICHLER: I like trying all of the different beers and it's fun to grow with the industry. It's like when wine was surging in popularity; that's the stage I feel that craft beer is in. There are all of these different flavors and styles.


ENTERPRISE: People know what craft beer is, but tell us more about craft burgers.

EICHLER: The traditional burger is still awesome - but craft burgers can keep that juiciness and cheesiness that everybody loves, while adding to it. We are going to have each burger be unique. One has a homemade bacon sauerkraut, for example.

I have been working on the menu for the burgers for over a year now. It's been pretty beneficial for friends and family, who get to try burgers for free whenever I think of a new recipe.

In addition to the eight to 10 burgers on the menu, there will be all sorts of toppings and sides and an opportunity for customers to build their own burgers, or have a veggie option. There could also be four or five specialty sausages, as well as specialty meats, such as bison, lamb and elk.


ENTERPRISE: What else should the community know about your restaurant?

EICHLER: They can follow our progress on www.facebook.com/craftycowwi.

Email: Jperttunen@conleynet.com