It all started as an idea. It was a conceptual design crafted to bring a unique dining experience to the Lake Country area. Two and a half years later, Brian Ward says he has done just that.
Point Burger Bar is known for its build-your-own burgers, a vision Ward said is inspired by burger bars in Las Vegas.
“There is just nothing like the (Las Vegas burger bars) in Milwaukee, so I wanted to put something like that together and add a twist by partnering with a local brewery as well,” says Ward, who also owns Ward’s House of Prime and the original Point Burger Bar location in Milwaukee.
No stranger to the restaurant business, Ward always knew food was in his future. He attended culinary school at the Milwaukee Area Technical College campus downtown straight out of high school and says he wouldn’t be where he is today without his early experiences working at the Open Hearth in Wauwatosa as well as at the iconic Smith Brothers Restaurant in Port Washington.
Both are closed now, but Ward says they live on through his work.
“I’ll never forget being 16 years old and working at the Open Hearth … if they ran out of prime rib, people would legitimately get up and leave,” he recalls. “That’s when I knew I wanted to find a way to offer something unique like that in downtown Milwaukee.”
Ward’s has now been open for almost eight years, specializing in prime rib that features a signature top-secret seasoning blend that took Ward and his chef two full months to develop.
“I always liked the food side of the business, always had the passion to cook, but really understanding it and taking pride in how I deal with customers in the front of the house side of business … that’s my true calling,” says Ward, who credits his time at Smith Brothers for his approach to restaurant management.
“I got to work in almost every part of the business there because the owner really took me under his wing and taught me everything he knew,” said Ward, who lives in Port. “He changed who I am by giving me those opportunities.”
All for the family
Now responsible for managing more than 300 employees in three different restaurants, Ward says he considers everyone a “part of the family.”
That’s part of the reason why he wanted to offer a high-quality, family-friendly dinner option in the Lake Country area.
“We really don’t have anything else like this in the Lake Country area, so I’m excited to be adding Point Burger Bar as an option for local families,” he says. “Our goal is to offer an atmosphere different than any other place you’d walk into in addition to a 5,000-square-foot game room that is a different mix than you normally see.”
And with more than 10,000 visitors during the week between Christmas and New Year’s, Ward says the success so far has exceeded his expectations.
“We knew it would be a success, but we’re blow away by how busy we’ve been,” he says.
In addition to the extensive tap beer list and game room, the restaurant offers customers the chance to build-their-own burger exactly to their liking.
“Aside from the build-your-own burger, which is a concept we really love, the specialty burger is our biggest seller,” Ward says. “So far at our new location, we’re also selling a lot of bison and lamb, which are all crafted in-house.”
Giving it a try
Trying something different in the lamb burger was among the things that drew Diana Migacz to try it out with her family recently.
“I had the lamb burger, and it had all the fixings that a gyro has,” said Migacz, who lives in Pewaukee. “They have a great beer selection and they rotate seasonal items, so that’s cool … the food is good, (I would say it’s definitely worth checking out.”
It may be known for its burgers, but the menu also features a variety of other sandwiches, as well as a veggie burger designed to attract vegetarian guests.
DeeDee Ternes and her daughter visited the new location shortly after it opened, and opted to give the grilled cheese and veggie burger a try.
“We had some special requests and (the staff) was happy to accommodate them,” said Ternes, of Menomonee Falls. “The food was good, the prices were okay and the atmosphere was definitely fun.”
Point Burger Bar
Phone: (262) 955-9192
Address: W229 N1400 Westwood Drive, Waukesha
Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 10:30 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday (kitchen hours), bar is open late and pizza is served to close