by Jeanette Hurt
• New space turns the throttle up at Harley-Davidson Museum complex
The old Café Racer was a cavernous, kind of casual place, with bright orange walls and quick sandwiches. It was the old kind of museum café – quick, good, but not a place to hang out in after you’re done noshing.
The new Can Room at MOTOR™ is a destination in itself at the Harley-Davidson Museum complex on Milwaukee’s near South Side. Gone are those neon-ish walls that stretched too high. Instead, the Can Room boasts a cozy, modern, and definitely motorcycle feel – the kind of place that beckons you to peek in, then gets you to linger because, well, it’s cool.
Cozy leather seating arrangements sit underneath a wall of fantastic motorcycle photographs, craft brews line the back of the bar, and high-top tables are arranged in front of the modern bar itself.
The focus of this new bar and restaurant space – which is now, really, an extension of MOTOR™ - is, as its name implies, cans. As in really good, canned craft beers. But they also serve up a barrel-aged cocktail (that will change and evolve) that’s more than darn skippy – right now it’s a Sconnie Cruiser, an apple brandy Wisconsin old-fashioned.
And the food made by Executive Chef Josh Peterson is sort of MOTOR™-light or MOTOR™, bar-styled. It complements what’s offered by MOTOR™, but it’s exactly the right sort of snacks for the space – great wings, excellent sandwiches, fried pickles, and brisket-topped nachos that are addictive.
For events, it seats 35 to 40 people, and, if the weather is as beautiful as it gets, another 10 to 20 could be easily seated outside on the patio, accessed by a fun, garage-styled door made of windows.
The new Can Room takes advantage of what had been underutilized space at the museum complex, says Annie Champeau, director of sales at the museum. The events on the grounds range from a meeting of ten up to 3,600. “We had our whole grounds rented out to a women’s convention, which had come to town,” Champeau said.
The museum and its restaurants will be launching a new menu for private events, including such things as a gourmet mac ‘n cheese bar, Champeau explained, and holiday parties and events are booking up fast.
Award-winning author Jeanette Hurt explores culture through the lens of food and drink. To learn more about Jeanette, visit her website at www.JeanetteHurt.com