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Judge sidesteps ‘corporate cat fight’ in Hofbrauhaus dispute

James Haertel stands in front of Best Place, 901 W. Juneau Ave. in Milwaukee. Haertel is being sued by a fellow investor over the decision to back out of talks to open a Hofbrauhaus Brewery and Restaurant. Haertel's company opened Best Place, a multi-use facility, instead. (Staff photo by Kevin Harnack)

James Haertel stands in front of Best Place, 901 W. Juneau Ave. in Milwaukee. Haertel is being sued by a fellow investor over the decision to back out of talks to open a Hofbrauhaus Brewery and Restaurant. Haertel's company opened Best Place, a multi-use facility, instead. (Staff photo by Kevin Harnack)

By Marie Rohde

While there may be a valid dispute among investors in the Wauwatosa company that had been negotiating to open a Hofbrauhaus Brewery and Restaurant on the site of the former Pabst Brewery in Milwaukee, there is no cause for an injunction, a judge ruled on Wednesday.

“I’m not sure I have the authority to step in the middle of a corporate cat fight,” Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Thomas Cooper said in court.

The lawsuit brought by Daniel Glaser, an investor in the BrewCity Redevelopment Group LLC, against James Haertel, the lead investor, will continue. They are seeking a change in the board of directors and a dissolution of the the corporate assets.

Glaser has been joined by more than a dozen other investors. They accuse Haertel of financial mismanagement.

BrewCity owns and is renovating a property at 901-17 W. Juneau Ave., a part of the historic brewery property.

BrewCity had been negotiating to model a beer hall on the site after Hofbrauhaus in Munich. They had been negotiating with Cincinnati Restaurant Group LLC but Haertel broke off the negotiations, saying that the plans for the Juneau Avenue property should go in another direction.

Glaser claimed in the lawsuit that Haertel had forced a change in the board of directors to bring about the change in direction. He also said the original plan for the beer hall was why he invested.

Developer Gary Gorman, president of Gorman & Co. Inc. in Oregon, said he was considering bringing a Hofbrauhaus to the ground floor of a hotel he is developing on the 21-acre site.

Most of the rest of the property is owned by the estate of Joseph Zilber. A number of proposals for the site are being considered.

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