Featured bartender: Brian Blochowiak of Hosed on Brady, The Mad Planet
Brian Blochowiak has been a professional bartender for 18 years and used to have five Milwaukee bar jobs at one time. Today, he is a bartender and manager at The Mad Planet, where he has worked for 12 years, and a bartender at Hosed on Brady.
Blochowiak is easy going, a breezy and witty conversationalist and clearly a beloved barkeep. He says it's his high level of customer service that keeps his customers coming back.
"I approach bartending as going the extra mile in customer service. Providing outstanding customer service is an art form in itself. Whether it be providing pregnancy tests behind the bar like we do at Hosed or making an 80-year-old woman blush when she told me she was going in for surgery and I asked if she was going in for breast implants," he says.
"Customers want to be entertained and when you have no shame like myself, you never know the conversation or antics you might be exposed to while I'm tending bar."
What more is there to say at this point other than keep reading for one of the most entertaining featured bartender segments on OnMilwaukee.com.
OnMilwaukee.com: Where else have you tended bar?
Brian Blochowiak: Let's see ... McGillycuddy's for 10 years. Yield for four years. Vitucci's, Thurman's, The Lodge, Eso, The Rave. I was once working at five bars at the same time.
OMC: Where do you live?
BB: In Bay View. I bought a house there about a year ago. Before that, I was on the East Side for 10 years.
OMC: How do you like owning a house?
BB: It has it's ups and downs. I like my peaceful and quiet neighborhood, and it's close to The Palm and Blackbird.
OMC: Do you live alone?
BB: I live with my girlfriend. No kids, no ex-wives.
OMC: What do you like about bartending?
BB: I like the uncertainty that comes along with it. You never know what to expect.
OMC: You must have seen a lot of outrageous things after working in bars for so many years?
BB: I once saw a guy do a "stunt man shot." It was the usual tequila shot, with the salt and the lime, but he snorted the salt, squeezed the lime in his eye and then did the shot.
I'm not going to mention what bar I was working at or who the owner is but the story goes as follows:
I had just walked in the door a few minutes early before my shift and the owner wanted me to go downstairs into his office because he wanted me to witness how he was going to discipline a fellow employee. So me and my co-worker were sitting next to each other across from his desk when all of a sudden he pulls out a Rambo-style knife and throws it right between our heads. So I'm just sitting there with this knife between our heads sticking in the wall while I'm listening to the owner yell at my co-worker. I did get a bonus on my following paycheck.
When I worked at Yield I witnessed a coworker take a half a glass of Slim Fast and a shot of Jameson that was dropped in like a bomb-style shot.
When I worked at McGillyCuddys I once had to ask a man to leave because I received a complaint about a patron in our beer garden that was rubbing his penis over his very loose '80s style running shorts. When I approached him, before I even said anything, he said, "Please don't hurt me," and just ran out of the bar. Funny thing was that it was only around 3 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon.
Recently, I threw a birthday party here for a 65-year-old customer. I told him to dress up, so he came in a nice suit. He got really intoxicated and finally we needed to get him home. Someone found a red wagon in the basement and so we put a chair in it and strapped him in and pulled him home three blocks in the wagon. He didn't remember. Oh, and he had asked for a cake with a naked woman jumping out so we gave him a cake with a naked Barbie instead.
And I've been around more vomit than most nurses or orderlies.
OMC: So do many fire people come into hosed?
BB: Some. We have them sign the hose that's attached to the front of the bar. Mostly, it's a neighborhood bar that happens to be six-feet-away from a fire station.
OMC: What do you like to do when you're not bartending?
BB: I like antiquing / thrifting and gardening. But I love to cook – French in particular. Make pastries. I have a culinary degree from MATC (Milwaukee Area Technical College). I took some pastry classes in Chicago. I was accepted at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris but it was way too expensive.
OMC: What's your favorite drink to make?
BB: I like to make Bloody Marys. I've made about 400,000 in my life. I really like making a Pim's Cup, too. I make it the same way they do at Napoleon's in New Orleans – with the cucumber slice.
OMC: Are you a fan of New Orleans?
BB: Yes. I have been there three times. Went for Halloween once. I love the cuisine, the atmosphere – it feels like you're not in the United States.
OMC: What do you like to drink?
BB: Vodka. Straight up or with club soda.
OMC: You mentioned you like estate sales and thrifting. Do you have any collections?
BB: I have 50 vintage cocktail shakers from the late 1940s and '50s.
OMC: Are there any books or movies set in bars that you particularly enjoy?
BB: I've been hooked on Charles Bukowski since I was 16.
OMC: Did you grow up in Milwaukee? Like it here?
BB: I grew up on the South Side, around 16th and Howard. I went to Pius. I love Milwaukee. I love the four seasons. The leaves turning at Holy Hill. And, believe it or not, I don't mind the snow. And Milwaukee is very affordable compared to other cities.
OMC: Are you looking forward to Summerfest?
BB: Not a huge Summerfest person, but I can't wait for Neil Diamond. Mostly, I'm into country and Elvis – I went to Graceland three times. It's beautiful – the 8th Wonder.
Brian's great. One (rare) Sunday, I went to McGilicuddy's for lunch and a game of Golden Tee w/ Matty G. Brian B was tending bar. Later that night, I ended up @ Eso 2 and guess who was tending bar? Brian B again. That Pius alum is a juggernaut! Cheers, Bri.
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