Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Rockwell to raise crops, the cheel rises from the ashes

Side-by-side photos of a manufacturing complex with a large, four-faced clock tower and a two-story restaurant under construction at the corner of an intersection.
Rockwell Automation / the cheel / Facebook
Rockwell Automation has farming aspirations, while the cheel strives for a fall reopening in Thiensville.

Each week on This Bites, dining critic Ann Christenson from Milwaukee Magazine and Radio Milwaukee’s resident foodie Tarik Moody dig into the city’s culinary and restaurant culture to help you find new spots, old favorites and the best ingestibles around Milwaukee.

As expected, Tarik and Ann are working furiously behind the scenes to bring the audio component back to your weekly roundup of Milwaukee-area food news. But, for this installment, we start with something decidedly unexpected happening right down the street from our Walker’s Point Studios.

Rockwell Automation is well known across a variety of industries for, essentially, helping companies that produce things do so more efficiently. On Wednesday, it announced plans to apply its expertise to farming. Even more unexpectedly, the farming will take place entirely inside Rockwell’s headquarters on South 2nd Street.

According to a press release from the company, Rockwell will collaborate with Green Bay-based Fork Farms — an agriculture technology startup — on a 7,300-square-foot vertical farm that will, of course, be “highly automated.” Clock Tower Farms, which the companies plan to complete by next summer, will be able to support up to 540,000 plants when it’s fully operational and crank out nearly 150,000 pounds of food every year.

Even more remarkably, the entire enterprise will rely on hydroponic farming techniques that use “containers filled with nutrient-rich water” rather than soil, making it possible to produce as much food as a three-acre conventional farm.

“Clock Tower Farms will engage employees and the community while serving as a showcase for manufacturers spanning diverse industries who want to see sustainable solutions in action,” Rockwell chairman and CEO Blake Moret said in the release. “We look forward to sharing more details next summer upon the project’s completion.”

The other food news item that jumped out this week also has an unexpected facet, although much more on the unfortunate side of things.

Almost three years ago, Thiensville restaurant the cheel — one of the area’s top dining destinations — sustained heavy damage in a fire that resulted in the owners razing the building. But Barkha Limbu Daily and Jesse Daily decided to double down on the site, which has seen a new facility growing steadily on the corner of Buntrock Avenue and Main Street.

Recently, they took a big step toward their planned fall reopening by starting the staffing process. Pretty much everything (except for owner) is up for grabs — from bartenders to dishwashers and cooks to food runners. If you’re interested, head over to the cheel’s website and fill out the form on its careers page.

That’s just two of the many developments from a very busy week. Here’s what else is happening:

Hopefully, Ann and Tarik made the most of their time away from the podcast, because there’s a lot to catch up on when This Bites returns. Subscribe on your preferred platform or by using the buttons at the top of this page so you don’t miss a single episode.