The Open Hearth a cozy 'easy chair' for generations of diners

The Open Hearth Restaurant in Wauwatosa.

The Open Hearth Restaurant in Wauwatosa. Photo By C.T. Kruger

Oct. 23, 2012

There seems to be a bit of a trend in restaurants these days. More and more dining spots are going back to the "supper club" concept. In other words: simple menus featuring traditional entrées in a relaxed yet elegant atmosphere. Well, if that's the trend, then The Open Hearth in Wauwatosa might just be one of the originators.

Opened by owner Gary Vogel in 1974, The Open Hearth has been offering fine yet casual dining to Wauwatosa diners for 38 years. Tucked away on 117th Street (across from Bowlero Lanes), The Open Hearth takes its name and its ambience from the fireplace central to the dining room.

"We've become a destination for generations of diners," manager Carrie Nelson says. "People come in here and say that they used to eat here as a young person and now they're bringing their own family."

Some of the signature dishes that have lured diners in for decades include The 12 oz. prime rib ($27), seafood risotto ($28), Wiener schnitzel ($23) and the Friday fish fry ($9.50 - $19.95) which Nelson deems one of the best in the area because of the quality and variety of offerings.

But the stars of The Open Hearth just might be the atmosphere and the clientele: "This is a neighborhood gathering place," Nelson says. "We try to make people feel like family - they are guests in our home. We want them to feel that coming here is like coming into an easy chair."

Although a little off the beaten path (the restaurant is directly below and west of Highway 45, accessible via Burleigh Road), The Open Hearth strives to be a family favorite for generations of diners in Wauwatosa, Brookfield and beyond.

"We're a little jewel in Wauwatosa," Nelson says. "Customers come here for the food, the ambience and the people, whether it's long-term employees or fellow patrons."

The Basics

NAME:The Open Hearth Restaurant

ADDRESS: 2930 N. 117th. Street, Wauwatosa

PHONE: (414) 475-0839


FARE: American, seafood, German

HOURS: Wednesday & Thursday 4-9 p.m., Friday & Saturday 4-9:30 p.m., Sunday 4 - 8 p.m.

PRICE RANGE: $10 - $30 (approximate)

RESERVATIONS: Yes - except on Friday, which is first-come, first-served




"Grab a Bite" is an informal look at the food scene in the Wauwatosa, Brookfield and Elm Grove area by freelance writer Karen Waldkirch. Whether you're looking for a place for a date night or a casual spot for lunch, Waldkirch will be out and about scouting eateries for you. If you have a suggestion for a column, email her at


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