“Turner Hall is a true Milwaukee icon, and we are very excited about this partnership,” Costello said. “We look forward to working with the Milwaukee Turners and the Turner Ballroom Preservation Trust to return this landmark restaurant to its previous status as a great option for those attending events at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. We are looking at bringing back old favorites like the famous Turner Hall fish fry and adding new, modern menu items. This is a great opportunity for the BMO Harris Bradley Center to offer fans new excitement, generate additional revenue to help support the building and Turner programs and give patrons more of the options they want.”
Costello said that under the agreement, the BMO Harris Bradley Center will lease the restaurant from the Trust, which has rights to operate it through a separate agreement with the Milwaukee Turners organization. Under the newly proposed agreement, which has an initial term of five years, the Trust will perform certain base building renovations, including the first floor restaurant space.
“Turner Hall and the BMO Harris Bradley Center have been neighbors for a long time, and this new relationship is a natural fit,” said Arthur Heitzer, board president of the Milwaukee Turners, which owns the 129-year-old building. “We are delighted to see the restaurant open with an exciting renovation that preserves its rich history and heritage. This restaurant will be a great addition to the Center, as well as a wonderful complement to the Turner Hall Ballroom and our varied athletic and public service programs. The Milwaukee Turners, one of the city's oldest civic organizations, was founded in 1853 on the twin goals of physical fitness and progressive civic involvement, and carries that tradition on today. ”
Gary Grunau, board chairman for the Turner Ballroom Preservation Trust, which renovated the Turner Hall Ballroom and is now renovating the main level of the building, praised the Turners for looking at new ways to keep both buildings viable.
“This is the start of what we hope will be a productive and mutually beneficial relationship,” said Grunau, a downtown real estate developer. “It’s great to see these two venues working together to benefit each other and downtown with the vital support of the Turner Ballroom Preservation Trust.”
The restaurant seating area, bar and kitchen will be fully renovated and modernized, Costello said, and exact hours and menu offerings are currently being developed. He said tentative plans call for the restaurant to be open during BMO Harris Bradley Center sports, concert and other events and offer new dining, hospitality and catering options for fans, groups and tenants. He added that the new restaurant may also be open when the famous Turner Ballroom hosts concerts.
Gary Witt, executive director of the Pabst Theater Organization, which is the owner and operator of the historic Pabst Theater and operator of Turner Hall Ballroom and Riverside Theater, applauded the development.
“The BMO Harris Bradley Center is filling a very important void as it now brings to life once again a restaurant and a Milwaukee tradition in this historic building,” Witt said. “There has been such tremendous growth in this neighborhood since we and the Milwaukee Turners began producing entertainment and other events here. We are very excited to work with the Milwaukee Turners and the BMO Harris Bradley Center teams to continue this growth and the success of this Milwaukee landmark location and the surrounding neighborhood.”