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 Milwaukee's Historic Turner Restaurant is Closing

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quijote

  • Total Posts: 643
  • Joined: 12/22/2007
  • Location: Milwaukee, WI
Milwaukee's Historic Turner Restaurant is Closing Wed, 08/25/10 4:59 PM (permalink)

Milwaukee's Historic Turner Restaurant, featured in the Sterns' 500 Things to Eat Before It's Too Late for its Friday fish fry and German dishes, is closing.

http://www.biztimes.com/d...-restaurant-is-closing

I'll be sad to see it go; I've enjoyed many good walleye and perch fish fries there.
 
#1
    ChiTownDiner

    Re:Milwaukee's Historic Turner Restaurant is Closing Wed, 08/25/10 6:07 PM (permalink)
    John -

    Thanks for the update...sad news.  I see the auction date, but did I miss the clsoing date?  Or is it already closed?

    Gregg
     
    #2
      quijote

      • Total Posts: 643
      • Joined: 12/22/2007
      • Location: Milwaukee, WI
      Re:Milwaukee's Historic Turner Restaurant is Closing Wed, 08/25/10 8:48 PM (permalink)
      Gregg, I haven't seen any specific info on the restaurant's last day. It's kind of odd that hasn't been publicized. Reaction to this closing seems to be mixed--on other boards, some people talk about Turner's (sub-)mediocre food and service, others lament the demise of one of Milwaukee's iconic eateries. I've only had the fish fry and a couple of German specialties and enjoyed them, but perhaps they didn't deliver with the many other menu items. I'm still sad to see it go--the number of restaurants offering German food continues to decline.

      Quick edit: According the Journal Sentinel online, September 4 is the last day:

      http://www.jsonline.com/newswatch/101513769.html

      <message edited by quijote on Wed, 08/25/10 8:52 PM>
       
      #3
        BuddyRoadhouse

        • Total Posts: 4086
        • Joined: 12/10/2004
        • Location: Des Plaines, IL
        Re:Milwaukee's Historic Turner Restaurant is Closing Thu, 08/26/10 2:10 AM (permalink)
        I've posted about Turner Hall numerous times over the years.  It was one of our favorite places in Milwaukee.  That said, the mixed reviews were deserved-up to a point.

        The menu was primarily geared toward the sports bar crowd; lots of fried apps, burgers, pasta dishes, grilled chicken sandwiches, etc.  The execution on those items was mediocre to subpar.  However, there was a section on the menu devoted to German specialties that was just wonderful.  It was like that food was coming from a different kitchen than the rest of the menu.  Also, the fish fry was very good with generous portions.

        The decor was another draw for the place.  High ceilings, broad expanses of dark wood paneling, huge booths that could easily sit six people, beautiful stained glass and wrought iron fixtures throughout.  It was a real treat just to sit in the dining room.  There was even a separate "palm room" off to the other side of the bar.  This was an attempt to recreate the opulent dining experiences of the early 20th century.  Upstairs was a ballroom that was still being renovated, but was in constant use, even in its unfinished state.

        The passing of this landmark will be sorely missed.  If the restaurant hasn't closed yet, I highly recommend that all my Milwaukee friends get in there at least once.  And stick to the German menu or the fish fry.

        Buddy
        <message edited by BuddyRoadhouse on Thu, 08/26/10 2:14 AM>
         
        #4
          ChiTownDiner

          Re:Milwaukee's Historic Turner Restaurant is Closing Thu, 08/26/10 8:03 AM (permalink)
          I am thinking about making the run this weekend...
           
          #5
            BuddyRoadhouse

            • Total Posts: 4086
            • Joined: 12/10/2004
            • Location: Des Plaines, IL
            Re:Milwaukee's Historic Turner Restaurant is Closing Thu, 08/26/10 8:37 AM (permalink)
            Unforunately, we're in Cleveland at the moment.  So, while you all will be enjoying German food at Turner Hall, Dad and I will be chowing down on Polish at Sokolowski's.

            Enjoy the grub if you go, and think of us.

            Buddy
             
            #6
              ChiTownDiner

              Re:Milwaukee's Historic Turner Restaurant is Closing Sat, 08/28/10 11:23 AM (permalink)
              Inspired by your Sokolowski's adventure last night, i will indeed make the 90 minute drive to the land of cheese, brats and beers!

              Historic Turner Hall...here I come! 

              Thinking of dinner around 6pm...not hard and fast.  Hoping to arrive in Milwaukee by 4pm for a visit to Usinger before they close at 5pm. 
               
              #7
                JRPfeff

                • Total Posts: 2376
                • Joined: 12/1/2006
                • Location: Pewaukee, WI & Fuquay-Varina, NC
                Re:Milwaukee's Historic Turner Restaurant is Closing Sat, 08/28/10 11:29 AM (permalink)
                Late breaking news: Turner Hall will not be permanently closing, they'll reopen under new management.

                Aug. 27, 2010 | Turner Hall is in advance negotiations with a local restaurant operator who will replace R.C. Schmidt's current operation, which closes Sept. 4.

                Art Heitzer, president of the Milwaukee Turners, the organization that owns the building, said he expects to have a deal with the new tenant soon. Once the deal is signed, it will take a few months before the new restaurant opens. The Turners will make structural repairs to the building after the Schmidt restaurant closes, Heitzer said. 

                Meanwhile, all existing entertainment and athletic programs continue in the historic building, on N. 4th St. across from the Bradley Center. 

                I reported on the Turner Hall restaurant closing in an earlier post this week.
                 
                #8
                  ChiTownDiner

                  Re:Milwaukee's Historic Turner Restaurant is Closing Sat, 08/28/10 11:37 AM (permalink)
                  Thanks...now, more than ever, I'm putting on my tourist underwear and heading up...ya der!
                   
                  #9
                    ChiTownDiner

                    Re:Milwaukee's Historic Turner Restaurant is Closing Sat, 08/28/10 11:37 AM (permalink)
                    Thanks...now, more than ever, I'm putting on my tourist underwear and heading up...ya der!
                     
                    #10
                      quijote

                      • Total Posts: 643
                      • Joined: 12/22/2007
                      • Location: Milwaukee, WI
                      Re:Milwaukee's Historic Turner Restaurant is Closing Sat, 08/28/10 12:24 PM (permalink)

                      Thanks for posting that, JRPfeff--I hope the new operation keeps alive the best of the restaurant's culinary offerings.

                      CTD, If I could I'd stop by the Turner tonight and visit with you, but looks like I won't be able to swing it. I hope the drive is worth it! If operations are shutting down soon (even temporarily), the service and food quality might slide dramatically.... But still, it's hard to resist German food. And no matter what, there's always Kopps afterward!
                       
                      #11
                        ChiTownDiner

                        Re:Milwaukee's Historic Turner Restaurant is Closing Sat, 08/28/10 2:49 PM (permalink)
                        Strawberry deLeche...but who's looking ahead!

                        While it is a very late decision for us to go, if anyone is interested, join us at around 6pm at Turner Hall.  I'll be out of touch the rest of the day.  It is just the two of us...Mrs. CTD and myself.

                         
                        #12
                          quijote

                          • Total Posts: 643
                          • Joined: 12/22/2007
                          • Location: Milwaukee, WI
                          Re:Milwaukee's Historic Turner Restaurant is Closing Sat, 08/28/10 4:40 PM (permalink)
                          Ooh, Strawberry de Leche--six of my favorite syllables!
                           
                          #13
                            ChiTownDiner

                            Re:Milwaukee's Historic Turner Restaurant is Closing Sun, 08/29/10 10:31 AM (permalink)
                            Traffic....none...1 hour 15 minutes, door to door.

                            Weather...glorious...78, light breeze, full sun!

                            Parking - FREE!  (At several places)  Hearing this Mayor Daley....doubtful!

                            After the customary filling of the cooler (about 20 lbs worth) at Usingers (Mayor Al - in your honor sir), various cheese joints, City Market, etc...we arrived at Historic Turner Hall right at 6pm.

                            I'm guessing at capacity, but I'm thinking over 200 easy.  We were part of 25 (total customers) on a Saturday night at Prime Time.  Our waitress later shared that she has been the sole waitperson on Saturday nights for some time.  While Bradley Center Saturday nights bring 2 hours worth of business in, she indicated it had been getting slower and slower.  Most of the competing downtown dining establishments were packed...Mader's had a line for their parking lot!

                            Inside, just what you'd expect of a historic, yet venerable building.  While showing her age, there is still a lot of charm.  Tables are comfortably spread, lighting subdued, bathrooms clean yet non air-conditioned, food service quick yet food tepid, art work is fascinating, high ceilings and heavy use of woods give an almost Bavarian feel.

                            We enjoyed...in order of my liking...

                            Sausage Platter - the warm, German potato salad was excellent as was the smoked link kielbasa served with a nice side of mustard.  The Usinger smoked beef sausage was over cooked and dried out as if it had sat at the ready on a flattop.  The sour, red cabbage was red, but not sour and pretty bland.  This was the only meal of the four that came out warm.

                            Kassler Rippchen - while not stated, this has to also be Usinger's smoked pork chop because we had just stuffed 6 into our cooler.  Slightly over grilled, it was still tender, flavorful with a great smokey and ham taste.  The potato pancakes with both apple sauce and sour cream (my choice) we room temp, over cooked, but still enjoyable.  It's a hard item to really mess up.  Another load of sour, red cabbage...still no puckering on this side.

                            Turner's Famous Fish Fry - This one comes looking the best...and while not greasy at all, it was a little bland for my liking.  So many good fish fries in Wisconsin, this was just average.  The french fries were standard issue, the cole slaw poor.  Marble rye and butter, long a staple at WI fish fries and simply great at Serb Hall was hard as a rock!  I kiddingly knocked on the table with one slice which sent employees heading away from confrontation.  Even the tarter sauce had an odd color to it.

                            Chicken Schnitzel - 2 pieces, one pounded just right, one really thick...to thick in my opinion.  A nice breading, no sauce...so in addition to thick and tepid, it was also a little dry.  While I love spaetzle, these were only fair...over cooked and room temp.  The fresh veggie mix was pretty good and not over cooked.

                            Inquiring about dessert, our waitress said there were really no standouts and that she would choose Koop's just like we were going to do!

                            This looks like a clear case of poor management in the kitchen resulting in a deteriorating food product out front.  The downfall of most restaurants.

                            It will be interesting to see how much lipstick the new food providers apply and if they really re-open later this fall...if they re-open.

                            As Historic Turner Hall also boasts a gymnastics room, I toyed with the idea of a few hours on the Pommel Horse and/or Uneven Bars but Mrs. CTD had forgotten my talc powder and knee socks.

                            Now on to the best part, as quijote has already indicated, Strawberry de Leche was FANTASTIC!  Perhaps the best custard I have ever had...caramel custard with ribbons of caramel, strawberry and bits of pound cake!  WOW!  Mrs CTD had the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, also pretty good...just picked the wrong night to go up against the Yankees!  Counter orders were averaging 6 SdL, 2 CCCD and 2 other flavors out of 10 orders.  Sitting out by the waterfall, there was somewhat of an orgasmic undertone to the entire outdoor crowd presumably induced by the SdL!!!  We enjoyed a moonlit basking in the afterglow before the uneventful and faster ride home!
                             
                            #14
                              buffetbuster

                              Re:Milwaukee's Historic Turner Restaurant is Closing Sun, 08/29/10 7:14 PM (permalink)
                              Based on the amount of food you ordered, it was you, Mrs. CTD and what four other people?  Oh wait, look who I am asking!

                              Thanks so much for the outstanding write up and the photos you sent me via text.  They obviously looked better than they tasted.  At least you were rewarded by the fine people of Kopp's for your trouble.  Free parking? 
                               
                              #15
                                quijote

                                • Total Posts: 643
                                • Joined: 12/22/2007
                                • Location: Milwaukee, WI
                                Re:Milwaukee's Historic Turner Restaurant is Closing Sun, 08/29/10 8:37 PM (permalink)
                                Thanks for the report, CTD. My first visit to Turner was in 2001, just a couple of weeks after moving to Milwaukee, and the place was packed and the food was very good. Aside from the perch and walleye, I remember enjoying the potato pancakes. I've been back only a few times since then, most recently about 2 years ago. I tried going earlier this year, but an event was going on nearby and parking was formidable. I don't know if the up-and-down nature of the events and convention business contributed to Turner's demise, but it certainly didn't help other restaurants such as Africa Hut, which closed a couple of years ago.

                                I'm glad you go the custard, though. If I hadn't been occupied, I would've sought out some of the Strawberry de Leche myself!
                                 
                                #16
                                  BuddyRoadhouse

                                  • Total Posts: 4086
                                  • Joined: 12/10/2004
                                  • Location: Des Plaines, IL
                                  Re:Milwaukee's Historic Turner Restaurant is Closing Mon, 08/30/10 1:40 AM (permalink)
                                  CTD,

                                  Sorry to hear about the decline in food quality at Turner Hall.  We have never had a bad German meal there, although our last visit was a good two years ago.  Sounds like a downward spiral stemming from the knowledge that the establishment could soon be no more. 

                                  As for the "lipstick" needed to rejuvenate the place, I think if the new owners focus on the food, they've at least got a fighting chance.  Unless the building is falling apart (given its age, it may very well be), I don't think they need to spend any money on the cosmetics of the vintage decor.  The previous/current owners clearly pumped plenty of cash into appearances.  The only major thing left to work on is the upstairs ballroom, which would be strictly optional at this point.

                                  Very sad to here things have slipped that far.  At least the Kopp's was good.

                                  Buddy
                                   
                                  #17
                                    ChiTownDiner

                                    Re:Milwaukee's Historic Turner Restaurant is Closing Mon, 08/30/10 7:23 AM (permalink)
                                    Just to be clear...it wasn't bad, just a C- to C+ on everything.  Today, that won't get you far unless you have a captive audience like a Warriors game or a Bucks game.

                                    As far as lipstick, we noticed a lot of wear items...the floor boards are worn down to nothing...a heavy sanding and refinishing is needed.  Basically, stuff like that.  Agreed the general decor is part of the charm.  I would add an updated lighting scheme to highlight the decor....to many dark pockets all around.

                                    Still dreaming of Strawberry de Leche....an all-time favorite!

                                    BTW - buffetbuster - We had several no shows and not wanting to be impolite, we took the liberty of ordering for them also.
                                     
                                    #18
                                      irisarbor

                                      • Total Posts: 603
                                      • Joined: 3/8/2006
                                      • Location: Deerfield, IL
                                      Re:Milwaukee's Historic Turner Restaurant is Closing Mon, 08/30/10 9:34 AM (permalink)
                                      not to hijack the thread, but the SdL sounds like it would even give the Lemon Meringue Pie a run for the $, my kids are still talking about that one, and keep asking when it will be back...

                                      Lemon meringue pie....
                                       
                                      #19
                                        BuddyRoadhouse

                                        • Total Posts: 4086
                                        • Joined: 12/10/2004
                                        • Location: Des Plaines, IL
                                        Re:Milwaukee's Historic Turner Restaurant is Closing Mon, 08/30/10 1:23 PM (permalink)
                                        ChiTownDiner

                                        Just to be clear...it wasn't bad, just a C- to C+ on everything.  Today, that won't get you far unless you have a captive audience like a Warriors game or a Bucks game.

                                        Still, there was a time when they would have been a B+ to A- in my book.  And when there's an event going on across the street at the stadium, parking is a killer in that neighborhood.  So unless people are specifically there to see the game AND dine at Turner Hall you can't even get near the place, as we found out during one of buffetbuster's visits to Milwaukee.

                                        ChiTownDiner

                                        As far as lipstick, we noticed a lot of wear items...the floor boards are worn down to nothing...a heavy sanding and refinishing is needed.  Basically, stuff like that.  Agreed the general decor is part of the charm.  I would add an updated lighting scheme to highlight the decor....to many dark pockets all around.

                                        Now see, I like the well worn floor boards.  To me, it's like a connection to the past.  I thought it added to the aura.

                                        ChiTownDiner

                                        BTW - buffetbuster - We had several no shows and not wanting to be impolite, we took the liberty of ordering for them also.

                                        You are soooooo considerate.  I've always said that about you.

                                        Buddy

                                        <message edited by BuddyRoadhouse on Mon, 08/30/10 1:24 PM>
                                         
                                        #20
                                          stricken_detective

                                          • Total Posts: 2330
                                          • Joined: 3/10/2004
                                          • Location: the 262
                                          Re:Milwaukee's Historic Turner Restaurant is Closing Mon, 08/30/10 10:55 PM (permalink)
                                          I have been going to downtown Milwaukee for the last 30+ years, and until you guys told me, I had no idea Turner Hall was a restaurant, too. Maybe they could add that to the sign?
                                           
                                          #21
                                            quijote

                                            • Total Posts: 643
                                            • Joined: 12/22/2007
                                            • Location: Milwaukee, WI
                                            Re:Milwaukee's Historic Turner Restaurant is Closing Mon, 08/30/10 11:28 PM (permalink)
                                            stricken_detective


                                            I have been going to downtown Milwaukee for the last 30+ years, and until you guys told me, I had no idea Turner Hall was a restaurant, too. Maybe they could add that to the sign?



                                            Always the last to know!

                                            You do know about Serb Hall, don't you?


                                             
                                            #22
                                              ChiTownDiner

                                              Re:Milwaukee's Historic Turner Restaurant is Closing Tue, 08/31/10 6:50 AM (permalink)
                                              stricken_detective


                                              I have been going to downtown Milwaukee for the last 30+ years, and until you guys told me, I had no idea Turner Hall was a restaurant, too. Maybe they could add that to the sign?


                                              Sign or no sign...it closes this weekend!  Last chance to check it out!
                                               
                                              #23
                                                buffetbuster

                                                Re:Milwaukee's Historic Turner Restaurant is Closing Tue, 08/31/10 9:16 AM (permalink)
                                                Sure do wish I could get there before it closes, but it just isn't possible.  Thanks again for the report CTD, since that is the next best thing.
                                                 
                                                #24
                                                  ChiTownDiner

                                                  Re:Milwaukee's Historic Turner Restaurant is Closing Tue, 08/31/10 10:47 AM (permalink)
                                                  buffetbuster -
                                                  No problem...still waiting for my dining companions to arrive...
                                                   
                                                  #25
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