“Bear & Bottle” Northside pub opens in new Lakewood Plaza building

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Bear & Bottle patrons recently enjoyed the sunny weather. The roll-up doors provided open air dining to those seated in the restaurant, while others enjoyed the sunshine on the patio. Photo by Lauri Lee

By Lauri Lee
Northside Economic Development Coalition

Bear & Bottle quietly unlocked their door May 8 to a community so hungry for something new to open in the neighborhood, that the pub was packed on the first day.

The upscale pub combines Wisconsin tavern friendliness and menu with the coastal cuisine of California. The menu embraces the multiculturalism of the West Coast with a lot of Asian and Latin influences. “Our choice to locate Bear & Bottle on the Northside is a perfect fit to our concept,” said restaurateur Tim Thompson. “This neighborhood has the diverse demographics with its mix of nationalities, ages and incomes. We want everyone living on Northside, whether they are in their 20s or 80s, to feel comfortable here.” The pub will also be a destination drawing people to the neighborhood from Waunakee and other outlying suburbs.

Bear & Bottle offers locally sourced food, innovative artisan cocktails, fine wines by the glass and bottle and craft brewed beer. They are open for lunch, happy hour, dinner or cocktails with friends, family or coworkers. The dinner menu includes appetizers, sandwiches, tacos, salad and entrées.  All are moderately priced from $6 for an appetizer to entrées that top out at $17. Beth Pieters, formerly of Salvatore’s Tomato Pies and Steenbock’s on Orchard, is the restaurant’s executive chef.

The vibe of the pub brings together the West Coast influence with Northside friendliness. The 4,800 square foot open floor plan of the restaurant and bar can seat 110 indoors and 50 outside on the patio. The patio, situated along North Sherman Avenue, is divided by roll-up doors to provide the pub with open air dining, a free flow of fresh air and plenty of natural sunlight. The dividing wall between the bar and restaurant seating is made of reclaimed barn wood and the walls have barn wood wainscoting. The dark wood finish tables were made by a local artisan.

The Bear & Bottle is not a chain and has its own unique style, concept and menu. Tim Thompson and business partner, Stephani Dalbesio, developed and own Bear & Bottle, along with five other restaurants in the region. They are also known for the Library Café and Bar on the west side of campus, Free House in downtown Middleton, the Flying Hound in Fitchburg, Waypoint Public House in Monona and Ale Asylum River House in Downtown Milwaukee. “We are thrilled to have our newest pub on the Northside,” said Thompson. “This is one of Madison’s most interesting communities. This entire side of town is moving in an exciting direction.”

Bear & Bottle is the first tenant in the building at the intersection of North Sherman Avenue and Commercial Avenue at Lakewood Plaza in Maple Bluff. “We are looking for other businesses to lease a space next to the pub,” said John Bergh, president of White Box Commercial Property Group. “The type of businesses that we’re looking for includes a flower shop, professional medical or dental office, salon/day spa, holistic pet supply and a small gift shop. If a business is starting up or expanding, this is an exciting new location.”

Bear & Bottle is located at 601 N. Sherman Ave., Madison in the Lakewood Plaza, near Manna Café. The pub hours are Monday–Wednesday: 11 am to midnight; Thursday–Saturday: 11 am-2 am; Sunday: 11 am–10 pm. They don’t take reservations. For more information, call 630-8800 or visit bearandbottlewi.com.