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The Radler Returns to Beer Hall Roots Amid 'Sea of Bars' on Milwaukee

By Paul Biasco | February 26, 2016 6:27am
 The Radler
The Radler
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LOGAN SQUARE — After two years in business, The Radler is making a return to its roots — the beer hall.

The Radler, 2375 N. Milwaukee Ave., which was initially imagined to be a German hall where strangers become friends over steins, had morphed into a place to sit down on a date and have a nicely plated meal.

Not anymore.

"It kind of got a little confusing," said Adam Hebert, a managing partner at The Radler. "Is this a fine-dining, sit-down establishment? Is this a beer hall? Or what is it?”

This month the crew at The Radler revamped the menu, taking its German sausages off plates and into buns, lowered the price on most items, added a cheeseburger and got rid of two-top tables all together.

There's no more host at the front door and there are a lot more long communal tables where the guys behind The Radler hope customers start making friends.

"When you walk into a beer hall you want to see a stein on every table. You want to see people who are here to have fun, to make a party," Hebert said.

The move comes at a time of change along The Radler's stretch of Milwaukee Avenue, which has grown into a drinking block, according to Hebert.

"We've stood out as kind of being this restaurant even though our original goal was to be a beer hall, but we kind of ended up falling [into the] restaurant category in a sea of bars," he said.

The Radler is next to Emporium and on the same block of Chicago Distilling Company, Slippery Slope, East Room, Cole's and Revolution Brewing.

About four months ago Hebert and his partner/chef Nate Sears were in the middle of dinner service when they noticed that in the entire restaurant, only one table of customers treated the place like an actual beer hall.

"People were wearing shirts and collars and feeling like they have to be in a pair of pressed slacks with dress shoes on when they walk through the front door," Hebert said. "I was like, 'There's something wrong with what we are doing that’s attracting that kind of thing.'"

Over the past four months they simplified the menu, added long tables, redesigned much of the interior and installed a gigantic wooden door to make sure guests knew what they were entering.

The changes come a few months after the restaurant grabbed headlines by switching to a no-tipping policy. Instead, an 18 percent service fee is automatically added to each bill.

That change has resulted in happier employees who feel like they have more skin in the game at the restaurant, Hebert said.

"It's been phenomenal," he said, explaining that employees have a larger sense of responsibility and ownership of their work when they know they're being paid by the employer rather than the customer's whims.

The Radler

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