At Perlick, we pride ourselves on the partnerships we have with our customers. We work with large venues across the nation, bar and restaurant chains, and local bars and eateries in the U.S. and worldwide. It’s always a little extra special when we get to work with a fellow business right here in the Badger State. Our Milwaukee roots are very important to us, and we are proud to be based in Wisconsin.
Today, we take a closer look at Liberty Station – Madison, a tavern known for its vast draft list and house-smoked meats! Liberty Station’s recently opened Madison location is the latest culinary endeavor from Keeler Hospitality Group, which also own Spencer’s for Steaks and Chops in Omaha, Nebraska and Keeler’s Neighborhood Steakhouse in Carefree, Arizona. We love that Liberty Station places an emphasis on local craft beers and local sourced ingredients.
BRINGING LIBERTY STATION TO LIFE
Let’s sit down with General Manager Matthew Weir to talk about this new venture, operating a restaurant during this challenging time, and why they chose to work with Perlick.
Hi Matt! What makes Liberty Station unique, and why should folks check it out?
At Liberty Station we strive to do everything well. Obviously, BBQ is our bread and butter: Brisket, Pork Shoulder, Ribs, Wings (just to name a few) are all smoked here onsite for up to 10 hours in our custom built 1,000-gallon smoker affectionately named “Big BIG Poppy.” [Side note: The Keeler family has strong Boston roots!] But we are a lot more than just BBQ. We have several fantastic fish options like the grilled salmon and fried cod (available every day). Fresh filling salads and delicious sandwiches (the Brisket Grilled Cheese which is always a winner). Rounded out with almost a dozen shareable sized items like The Liberty Nachos (with hearty pork stew) and Firecracker Shrimp. We are sure to have something that everyone will love. And that’s just the food!
Looking for a spot to have some beers and catch the game? We have 20 draft lines chock full of local brews from here in Madison and greater Wisconsin. More of a wine fan? We have a 16’ wine wall with 50 labels to choose from. In the mood for relaxing by one of our fireplaces and enjoying a more sophisticated drink? Consider our craft cocktail list, a seasonally rotating list showcasing local spirits, new concoctions, old favorites, and classics with a twist.
When you combine all of that with a friendly, knowledgeable staff that can add that personal touch to your experience, it all comes together in a place like Liberty Station, where people genuinely enjoy themselves and want to come back… with friends!
When did Liberty Station open, and where exactly is it located?
We opened on June 15th of this year. We are located just north of the beltline on Rimrock Road in Madison. Walking distance from the Alliant Energy Center.
SERVICE IN THE TIME OF COVID
What does service look like right now given COVID-19?
Obviously the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way that almost everyone does business, and the restaurant industry may be at the top of that list. The current restrictions provide new challenges for us to overcome but we like to think of them as another opportunity to show our guests that we take their health and safety very seriously. Reduced capacity, reduced party sizes, mandatory face coverings, socially distanced tables, more aggressive cleaning schedules and daily employee temperature checks help us create an environment where our guests are comfortable and are able to enjoy their time with us and stay safe in the process.
Matt, you have an interesting story, growing up in the Midwest, going out west, and now you are back. What made you come back for this job?
I was born and raised in Michigan but had spent the last 10 years in Phoenix where I met my beautiful wife Erin and started with the Keeler Hospitality Group. I had been out of the Industry for several years and when I joined KHG I only had the intention of picking up a few bartending shifts on the weekends. Soon I fell in love with the culture and people. Before I knew it I was the General Manager of our Terravita location in north Phoenix (much to the credit of a couple of my mentors Monica Teligades and Matt Keeler).
Phoenix is a great city especially for newlyweds but as we started to think about having kids we really wanted to get back to the Midwest to see our future children grow up doing the things that we did when we were young: Building snowmen, jumping in piles of leaves and catching lightning bugs. When I heard about the plans for Liberty Station Madison, it all seemed to come together. I was able to stay with Keeler Hospitality Group who have become like family, and my wife and I were able to come back home and start to put down roots.
I know right now especially we are mostly seeing stories about the challenges in the bar and restaurant industry, and we know those challenges are real, but tell us why you LOVE this industry so much, and even now, wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.
I have done a lot of different things outside of the hospitality industry, Carpentry, Fabrication, Process Engineering, but always seemed to circle back. While I always derived a great sense of pride in seeing something I created from nothing, there is another type of fulfillment I get from the industry. I think it comes from being part of a team. A well run restaurant takes dozens of people all doing their jobs skillfully and passionately, and when you can step back during a busy service and see your staff excelling in their roles, gorgeous food and drinks hitting tables and a sea of happy guests it is truly a great feeling. I think that feeling is only heightened now given all the new hurdles.
PERLICK’S WORLD CLASS SERVICE
Perlick is proud to supply bar and beer equipment for Keeler restaurants. Why do you guys choose Perlick?
Striving to do everything well means that you need the equipment to match, and you need passionate people to stand behind that product. In our minds Perlick is number one in their field.
What was the install process like with Perlick?
Install was a breeze, but as anyone who has opened a restaurant knows, just because it is new, doesn’t mean it works. It is when you have an issue where companies like Perlick really shine. Having people on site to iron out any kinks and ensure that everything is working as it should, is invaluable to us. Especially in those crucial weeks after a grand opening.
Being in Madison, does it make it extra special that your bar equipment is homegrown in Milwaukee?
At all the KHG properties, community is key. We aim to support our communities just as much as they support us. More often than not when locally sourcing ingredients, spirits or services we find people who are so dedicated to their crafts that whatever they produce is of such high quality that we are proud to serve or display it in our restaurants. Perlick is a perfect example.
As mentioned, you guys have amazing beers on tap AND food! Tell me a little more about the menu, and any special Wisconsin flare it features.
Wisconsin has so much to offer, especially to the restaurant Industry. With 20 taps, it gives us the opportunity to showcase many of Madison’s great breweries as well as their seasonal products. We have never had the same 20 offerings one week to the next, and to us that is a great way to keep our bar program fresh and support the local guys who are putting out fantastic beers.
Our state also has great Midwest traditions and local specialties that we are excited to offer. Friday night fish fry, lake caught walleye, Wisconsin white cheese curds are all great examples. And our smoked prime rib feature every Friday and Saturday is quickly becoming OUR tradition! Every weekend our chefs prepare unique pairings for our gorgeous 10oz prime rib. Many of them feature locally sourced ingredients giving the dish that Midwest flavor.
Anything else you would like to add?
We are extremely proud of Liberty Station Madison and all that it has to offer. Every detail of our guest’s experience has been considered and meticulously accounted for. Even our artwork was hand crafted by a former KHG employee, Cinque Smith, who provided stunning murals, timeless portraits, and outstanding Wisconsin themed works. It has so many beautiful spaces that can be tailored to provide the perfect backdrop for your special occasion.
The 38-seat bar boasting 6 TV’s showing all of Wisconsin’s favorites, the Lounge area with private booths and an impressive indoor fireplace. Our “porch” area is convertible between four seasons room and al fresco dining. The spacious 80 seat patio (one of the largest in the city!) is equipped with a dozen heaters and an outdoor fireplace. Lastly our private dining room is perfect for intimate events small and large. All our spaces are available and ready to serve you!
Thanks Matt for sharing your story, and we are happy to have you and your family in Wisconsin. Perlick prides itself on world class customer service, and we are so proud we could help you open this fabulous venue in our state’s capitol. We look forward to more collaborations in the future! Learn more about our Commercial Products HERE.