Birch restaurant chef finds home in Milwaukee after gigs around globe

Kristine M. Kierzek

Chef Kyle Knall brings a passion for seasonal and local ingredients to the newly opened Birch, 459 E. Pleasant St. There’s a new bar in the renovated space, and Knall himself has been painting the interior while planning the menu.

Knall, who worked his way from his native Birmingham, Alabama, to Gramercy Tavern in New York, has launched restaurants from London to New Orleans in recent years. 

Milwaukee happens to be his wife Meghan’s hometown. They’d visited often, and talked about raising a family here. When everything shut down last year, it was time. They made their way here with son Aidan, 14 months.

Within his first weeks here, he was learning local agriculture and creating to-go meals at Stone Bank Farm Market, N68-W33208 County Road K, Stone Bank. Another chance meeting brought him to Birch, partnering with restaurateur Becca Zwiefelhofer and Ben Christiansen, who will be leading the restaurant’s wine program.

Kyle Knall is the executive chef at Birch, and he also does work at Stone Bank Market.

We caught up with Knall as he prepared for the restaurant’s opening.

Question: How does a chef from Alabama make his way to Milwaukee? 

Answer: My wife is actually from Brookfield. The family used to have a grocery store in Brookfield called V. Richards. Her dad, his name is Vincent Richard, he sold it to his sisters. He moved to Birmingham and opened two there. That’s the tie to Milwaukee. My wife’s mother and stepfather live here, her grandparents and lots of family, friends. 

Rebecca R. Ammons

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