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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014

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In Dining

New owner Stuart Girmscheid (left) and bartender Rick Huffer.

In Dining

Pool, pinball and beer bong are among the games available at Auntie's.

In Dining

Auntie's was formerly the Wild Breed biker bar.

Sons strive to save Auntie's - their mom's bar and grill


Thirteen years ago, Cindy Girmscheid opened The Wild Breed, 11430 W. Swiss St., a biker bar in Franklin. After more than a decade of spending 12-16 hours a day on her feet Girmscheid's varicose veins became such an issue she was forced to stop working, at least for a while but possibly, forever.

Instead of letting the family business fall to the way side, Girmscheid's sons, Stuart and Scott, decided to keep it running, but with a few major changes.

"We're more family focused now," says Stuart. "We're making a fresh beginning. I'm really looking to change the image."

Two years ago, Girmscheid decided to change the name of her bar from The Wild Breed to Auntie's, which is her nickname, so the brothers decided to keep the name which fit with their new family-focused concept.

Although neither of the brothers have a lot of restaurant or bar experience first hand, they have helped their mom over the years enough to have a bit of a clue about what needs to get done.

"I started taking note about two years ago, when my mom's partner passed," says Stuart. "But really, I'm winging it."

Stuart runs the day-to-day operations and does most of the cooking because of the flexibility he has from running his own home remodeling business. Scott helps out a lot, but is continuing his full time gig as a diesel mechanic.

Auntie's is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Recently, the menu has been scaled back, with fewer daily specials and more of a commitment to improving staple bar fare items like wings, burgers, chicken sandwiches, tacos and steak or corn beef and egg breakfasts. There's also a fish fry, featuring baked or beer-battered pollock, every Friday night. For $8.50, it includes four pieces of fish, hush puppies, marble rye bread, cole slaw, cottage cheese or applesauce and fries or potato pancakes.

Other specials include a $3 taco night offering three hard shells or one large soft shell and all-you-can-eat broasted chicken every Saturday night for $10.95. Sundays feature 16-ounce "loaded" Bloody Marys for $6.

Stuart says he was inspired by the show "Bar Rescue," a reality TV show starring consultant Jon Taffer who travels the country offering his expertise to struggling bar owners.

"(Jon Taffer) said to simplify. Start over if you're in over your head. So we're going back to the basics," says Stuart.

Currently, Auntie's occasionally offers karaoke and live music, but Stuart plans to offer a lot more entertainment in the future, including a regular open jam on Sundays. Stuart is currently working with a local promoter to find bands that would be a good fit for Auntie's. The space contains a pool table, NASCAR pinball machine and beer pong for teams or individuals.

The space also underwent a major cleaning and more recently some remodeling including new paint. "The Wild Breed was not the cleanest of establishment," says Stuart. "It was an old, run-down biker bar. I'm making this into a comfortable bar and also a place where people want to bring their kids for dinner."

Does Stuart's and Scott's mom – Auntie's namesake – miss the business?

"She misses it but she understands it's for the right reasons. She's a stubborn old lady," says Stuart.

So far, business has been slow but steady. Stuart is trying to attract new customers via word-of-mouth and his Facebook page, where he often posts menu-related information but also statements that reflect his challenging family situation that in the midst of which he is trying to stay positive.

"Hope everyone has a great day. Shake a hand or give a hug. Someone may need it," he posted.


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