Benson’s Restaurant Group: The Bridgewater taps veteran Milwaukee-Area restauranteurs to lead R1VER Campus restaurant opening in October

MILWAUKEE – Benson’s Restaurant Group’s The Bridgewater Modern Grill is gearing up for its October grand opening with the naming of Rik Acken as general manager and Steve Gustafson as executive chef of the restaurant along the Kinnickinnic River at 2011 South 1st Street in the Harbor District.

The restaurant, seating 165 guests in the interior dining room and 80 guests on the exterior riverside patio, will be managed by Acken, a Benson’s Restaurant Group veteran, who previously served as general manager at Swig, Water Buffalo, Smoke Shack and most recently, Onesto.

“Rik is an essential member of our Benson’s restaurant team and there is no better person to lead our newest restaurant than him,” said Chris Adams, executive vice president at Benson’s Restaurant Group. “The Bridgewater will be like nothing our Milwaukee area community has seen from us before. With the longest riverfront patio in the area, ten boat slips, the oak-fed Jade grill and a robust wine program, we’re creating a truly unique experience that we know our community will love in just a few shorts months when we open.”

The Bridgewater Modern Grill’s straightforward menu will integrate nuanced wood-fired flavors with all the classic comforts. On the menu, guests can expect to enjoy wood-fired fresh fish and steaks, fork and knife ribs, chicken rotisserie, hearty salads and more.

In collaboration with the restaurant group’s corporate executive chef, Alex Sazama, Gustafson will bring The Bridgewater menu to life.

“The Bridgewater menu is inspired by our custom designed, oak-fed Jade grill. We’re taking carefully sourced ingredients and enhancing them with heat, flame, and coals. The dishes are classic, refined and, of course, delicious. I know that Steve’s skill as a chef and a leader will create an incredible experience for our Bridgewater guests,” said Sazama.

The Bridgewater Modern Grill is committed to sourcing the highest quality ingredients and products by partnering with over a dozen local businesses, including Rocket Baby Bakery, Hundred Acre Farms, BelGioioso Cheese, Greige Bakery, Mushroom Mike LLC, Valentine Coffee, Best Burn Firewood, Strauss Meats, Great Lakes Distillery, Eagle Park Brewery and more.

The Bridgewater is currently hiring for all positions, including an assistant manager, onsite events manager, servers, bartenders, line cooks, food runners and more. To apply, visit


The Bridgewater Modern Grill, opening October 2022, is the newest restaurant addition to Milwaukee’s Harbor District. The riverside restaurant features over 11,000 total sq. ft. with 165 interior dining seats, including a 30-person private dining room and multiple booths offering open kitchen visibility to the oak-fed Jade grill. The 80-seat exterior dining space features the indoor/outdoor bar, social patio with soft seating, fire tables and cocktail service, a 100-person outdoor lawn for activation and private events, and ten boat slips in the Kinnickinnic River with direct restaurant service. Learn more at


Benson’s Restaurant Group is a family-owned hospitality company based in Milwaukee that conceptualizes, develops and operates a portfolio of restaurants. Benson’s Restaurant Group, a division of Marcus Investments, currently operates and manages four different casual dining restaurant concepts: Onesto, Blue Bat Kitchen & Tequilaria, Smoke Shack and AJ Bombers. The group is also the franchisor of Zaffiro’s pizza brand. Learn more at