By Amanda N. Wegner
As the saying goes, good things come in small packages. From historic hotels to art gallery space, Milwaukee’s downtown renaissance has opened the door to new and unique meeting spaces perfect for smaller groups and events. While they may be on the smaller side, these six venues are mighty, providing ample opportunity to flex your creative muscle and wow your participants and guests.
Surg on the Water & The Garden
With ample event space and a beautiful patio along the Milwaukee River, Surg on the Water is an excellent location for your next event. “It’s a beautiful space overlooking the Milwaukee River, “says Omar Shaikh, co-owner and president of Surg Restaurant Group. “Plus, our focus on customer service and the diversity of food we can offer is unmatched. One of our biggest amenities is that we can execute menus from any of our restaurants,” which includes Carnevor, Umami Moto, Hom Wood Fired Grill, Bradford Beach and Lucid.
Surg on the Water can accommodate 225 to 250 seated, 300 to 350 for cocktails.
Over on North Milwaukee Street, Shaikh’s group also offers The Garden, a more modern backdrop for events. Ideal for 150 seated, 250 for cocktails, the Garden is defined by its wooden “garden,” which is built up the walls and along the ceiling and back lit with high-end, customizable LED lights. This space also has a 200-inch drop-down screen for presentation needs. www.surgonthewater.com and www.thegardenmke.com
The Box is a versatile space along Milwaukee’s Wisconsin Avenue, offering 3,000-square-feet of open, loft-style space, Cream City brick, hardwood floors, beautiful lighting fixtures, and an eclectic mix of vintage, modern and traditional furniture.
“The Box is not your typical banquet hall or conference room,” says Jaime Levine, who co-owns The Box with Jamie Berger. “…The flexibility of the venue allows you to simply use its existing minimalist charm — or create an opulent setting.”
The Box’s capacity is 200 seated and 250 cocktail-style.
While the venue offers a list of preferred vendors, clients are not required to work with them. “The Box team has an amazing reputation for serving our clients,” says Levine. “The space is unique, versatile and in a prime location.” www.theboxmke.com
In a beautifully renovated 1916 Cream City brick building, you’ll find Redline Milwaukee, which was founded in October 2009 as a charitable art and education incubator. But lucky for planners, it also boasts unique meeting space.
“Redline is a raw space with so much creative potential,” says Jennifer Schmitz, events coordinator. “It’s part of Milwaukee history and still contains much of the same structure as when it was built with the Cream City brick and wood flooring.”
Events here are held within an actual art exhibit. Typical capacity is 150 to 200, but that can be bumped to 250 by renting the upstairs loft/artist resident space. Sliding walls give planners some flexibility with the space, and there is workspace for caterers. www.redlineartmke.org
The Iron Horse Hotel
This 1907 warehouse-turned-upscale hotel offers a multitude of meeting spaces to deliver an authentic Milwaukee experience.
The Library, the hotel’s communal breakfast dining area, is available for meetings, hosting 35 seated, 75 for receptions. Great for events where “you don’t want to feel trapped in a square box,” says Valerie Casper, regional director of sales and marketing for Aparium Hotel Group, the Library offers ample natural light and overlooks the Harley-Davidson Museum.
The lower-level Gallery is Iron Horse’s largest event space at 2,500 square feet, and for board meetings and corporate events, the War Room and Sandbox offer excellent A/V capabilities, as does the fifth-floor Loft.
For your food needs, Iron Horse prides itself on its commitment to locally sourced food.
“The Iron Horse offers an upscale, tailored experience,” says Casper. “We take the time to get to know our clients, providing more than the service they expect.” www.theironhorsehotel.com
Milwaukee Public Market
As one of downtown’s most unique destinations, Milwaukee Public Market offers an equally unique event space.
On the Market’s second level, the Palm Garden can be transformed from drinks to dinner to a dance floor, all in one evening. Also on this floor, the state-of-the-art Madame Kuony Demonstration Kitchen is available for special events and teambuilding activities. Or, for the ultimate event, reserve the entire market!
When it comes to food, the market is the place to be! With its mission to foster a market for privately owned food growers, artisans and purveyors, the vendors at the Milwaukee Public Market can provide an enticing array of cuisine for your event as well. www.milwaukeepublicmarket.org
Within walking distance of Lake Michigan, Hotel Metro is the perfect spot for small meetings, complemented by all the amenities of Milwaukee’s lakefront.
“There are so many different things to do downtown, and the fact that we are right in the center of it makes staying at Hotel Metro that much better,” says Katie Murphy, sales assistant manager.
Hotel Metro offers four meeting spaces for events. The largest spaces include the “Little Great Room,” which can hold 90 seated and 125 for receptions, and the Zen on Seven Rooftop Space, holding 36 seated and 50 reception-style. Additional smaller spaces are available for business meetings. AV equipment is available
“We are a small, independent hotel that doesn’t have a very corporate feel to it. We are very cozy and attract people who want that same type of feel,” says Murphy. www.hotelmetro.com