By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published May 01, 2023 at 7:02 PM

Last September, we reported the news that a new East Side food park was in the works for the former Zak's / Humboldt Gardens building at 2249 N. Humboldt Ave. (a.k.a. 1025 E. North Ave.).

Behind the ambitious project is Clarence Morse, owner of Dark Horse Development, whose proposal to fully restore the former Schlitz tied house, which dates back to 1890, was accepted by the City of Milwaukee as part of the RFP proposal process in 2021.

While conceptual approval for the project from the city’s Historic Preservation Commission was granted last December, a number of changes were requested before final approval could be granted.

Fortunately, after five months, the adapted plans were officially approved during today's Historical Preservation Committee meeting, marking the clearance of yet another hurdle for the project, which aims to restore an endangered historic building.

“This is great news for us,” notes Morse, who says he is hopeful that the project will truly pick up speed starting this summer.  “For now, we’ll begin to do some mitigation on the property including structural shoring and roof tarping to prevent further deterioration of the building.”

Rendering for Humboldt GardensX

Morse’s plans for the property include an outdoor food park on the south side of the building, which would accommodate food trucks, trailers and/or other food vendors, as well as outdoor seating and a stage for live entertainment.

A bar, eatery and coffee shop are slated for the first floor of the building, along with a commercial kitchen space in the basement, which would serve as home base for food vendors and aspiring entrepreneurs. 

Plans also include the creation of office spaces and/or an events space on the second floor of the building, with the upper floor used as the headquarters for Dark Horse Development.

“I”m excited and grateful for all the support I’ve received from both the City and the community,” he says. “I really can’t wait to move this forward and fulfill my vision to create a place where food entrepreneurs can launch their careers.”

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.