Von Trier to Stay Its German Self

The plan to reopen as ‘upscale’ cocktail lounge is out after ‘outpouring of support.’

Von Trier bar (2235 N. Farwell Ave.), an East Side institution, will continue in its current incarnation as a German-themed bar and restaurant, an announcement from its owners says.

The news is a U-turn for the venue, which announced in August it was closing for remodeling, to open later as an “upscale, classic cocktail lounge with a mid-century vibe.”

The owners, John and Cindy Sidoff, say in their release Tuesday that they’d collaborate on operations with Wes Shaver and Mike Sorge, owners of Black Sheep restaurant and bar, along with The Schwabenhof, “another Germanic Milwaukee institution.”

“This summer has been a whirlwind to put it mildly,” John Sidoff says in the statement. “I had no idea how many people truly wanted to see Von Trier thrive during the North Avenue Renaissance; the outpouring of support, visitors and personal messages was overwhelming.”

Plans for remodeling the place will still go forward, but the change in theme will not. The release says it will remain open through early January 2018 “before undergoing renovations and updates,” and then will reopen in early February. Shaver and Sorge plan to implement changes such as a tap wine system and food menu including sausages, sandwiches and “shareables.” Also planned is a Friday fish fry accompanied by live polka music.

Not to rain on their announcement, which is welcome news, but here’s a 2015 Milwaukee Magazine feature about the mysterious murder of Von Trier’s founder, Karl Lotharius.

Back in the day when taverns all had jukeboxes, Von Trier had one of the best, which included Mario Lanza singing the rousing “Drink, Drink, Drink” from The Student Prince. 




Tom Tolan is managing editor at Milwaukee Magazine, where he's worked since January 2016. He spent 24 years at The Milwaukee Journal and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel as a copy editor, assistant metro editor and reporter. He lives in Shorewood.