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In Bars & Clubs Blogs

Center Court never caught on. (PHOTO: Eugene Kane )

What's wrong with this location?


"Bar Month" at OnMilwaukee.com is back for another round – brought to you by Aperol, Pinnacle, Jameson, Fireball, Red Stag and Avion. The whole month of February, we're serving up intoxicatingly fun articles on bars and clubs – including guides, the latest trends, bar reviews and more. Grab a designated driver and dive in!

It's a mystery why a sports bar located right across the street from the city's main sports arena just never seemed to work.

In business, they say the mantra is location, location location.

Apparently not when it comes to the Center Court Pub and Grille at 1118 N. 4th St.

I'm sure the owners leasing the property probably considered the location a prime spot due to the presence of the BMO Harris Bradley Center right across the street. Between home games for the Milwaukee Bucks, concerts and various special events like professional wrestling that are regular heavy crowd dates during the year, one would imagine the Center Court Pub could become a real institution.

It never happened.

Maybe the Center Court Pub owners should have talked to the people who owned Legends. Or GameTime. Those were the names of previous establishments that used to exist in the exact same spot.

Absent any financial records or inside information about management practices or food quality, it's hard to make a definitive statement why Center Court Pub – or any of the others – just never caught on with the public.

The sporting crowd in Downtown Milwaukee does have its traditional favorites like Major Goolsby's, and other new bars and clubs that have opened over the past five years or so.

More than ever before, you have lots of choices if you want a bite or a drink before or after the game.

But it's hard to believe anyplace would be more convenient than just walking across the street. And it's just as hard to believe a place that sold good drinks and beverages at a reasonable price wouldn't have a good chance to compete.

Again, I bet that's what they all thought at first.

The latest problem for Center Court is $192,000 in back rent the owners want the City to forgive after terminating the lease. Some alderman object to the plan because it could set a bad precedent.

In the meantime, the vacant property will almost certainly attract the attention of the next big-dreamer who sees a great opportunity.

A sports bar, perhaps?

Talkbacks

sandstorm | Feb. 18, 2013 at 9:40 a.m. (report)

"You wont be NOR should you be catered to..." lol. a dining/drinking establishment should not cater to its customers??? really? somebody should also tell BCZF that Milwaukee does not have a professional football team. what friggen' town does he think he lives in?

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BCZF | Feb. 16, 2013 at 7:31 p.m. (report)

Little background, this space was originally an Italian restaurant when it first opened (think it was a small-ish chain) took my wife there once when we were dating.. Has to be 20 years ago. Could explain the dark glass. As far as pitchers and parking., well it IS at the base of a rather large parking garage, probably with a lot of open spaces.. Dont want to pay for garage parking or worse Bucks gameday rates? Dont know what to tell ya.. Not many place with free open parking lots downtown. Cant help ya with the cost of a pitcher.. As for the person wanting a "safe": place to watch Steelers games, how about Pittsburgh? I mean, seriously, what friggen town do you think your in? You wont be NOR should you be catered to.. Or buy Dish Network and stay home (ahh.. that felt good)

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sandstorm | Feb. 15, 2013 at 1:23 p.m. (report)

Natemarq, you actually complained to the manager about an $11 pitcher of Lite? While on the high side, it's not outrageous. Or at least something you'd pay, b**** about amongst yourselves for a while, and then leave. Complaining to the manager, though??? I'd bet dollars to donuts you're one cheap dude!

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pfan | Feb. 15, 2013 at 1:05 p.m. (report)

I have to laugh (or cry, I'm not sure) when I see people complain about parking in this location. It could not be easier. Street parking all over, and it's underneath a freaking parking garage. Give me a break... Milwaukee will never grow up into a cosmopolitan city until this mindset of parking your car, for free, directly in front of the place you're going, changes. I would argue that it's a combination of things that contribute to bar's failure. 1. Bad design. First of all, never put dark tinted glass in a retail space. You want people to know there's something happening inside. I would redo the entire facade. Lose the cheesy canvas awnings and darth vadar glass. Connect it to the street. 2. Location. Yep, it's not a great location, despite being across the street from the BC. It's an all-or-nothing spot active maybe a third of the year, for maybe 3 hours a day. There's no immediate neighborhood fabric to knit into so you have to often go out of your way to be there. And yes, Third Street is nearby, but it's not a part of that scene. This is the problem when you face when city blocks that contain a mix of uses are torn down to build single-use mega structures. To combat this, you have to make whatever goes in there a destination spot. Legends worked because they catered to poor college students... Or, create a vibrant mixed-use community around it --- hopefully what the vacant Park East parcels some day become.

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Photodavie | Feb. 15, 2013 at 12:52 p.m. (report)

A trrusted name in MKE dining would need to move into this space to make it work. Such as Bartolotta or SURG. Otherwise this space will always be passed-over by people who have braved previous restaurants in this space. Trying to complete with goolsbies is also ridiculous. They have perfected pre-game sports bar cuisine and service. Whomever tries to make-over the new space should go with something completely different.

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