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The Mason Jar will soon morph into The High Note Karaoke Lounge.
The Mason Jar will soon morph into The High Note Karaoke Lounge.

High Note Karaoke Lounge opening Downtown

In 2014, reported that Shannon and Gina Stangel bought the storied bar and lounge The New Yorker, 645 N. James Lovell St., and renamed it The Mason Jar

The Stangels have changed the name and concept of the bar and hope to introduce The High Note Karaoke Lounge to the public on Friday, Sept. 4.

"We are doing some renovations now, and if all goes as planned, Sept. 4 will be our first day open," says Shannon.

When the Stangels first took over the bar, they intended to be a live music bar; however, they will return to the New Yorker’s karaoke focus.

"After urging from our customers, we decided to bring back the essence of the New Yorker: we are now going to be karaoke all the time," says Shannon.

The High Note will offer karaoke Wednesday through Saturday nights. They may add Mondays and Tuesdays in the future.

"Karaoke is always free," says Shannon. "We have added a lot of lasers, smoke machines and lighting. It is above and beyond a standard karaoke show."

Stay tuned to for a first look when The High Note opens. And start practicing your favorite karaoke songs in the shower.

The Winchester owners and crew are working night and day to make the space ready for an early September opening. The space formerly housed Two Bucks.
The Winchester owners and crew are working night and day to make the space ready for an early September opening. The space formerly housed Two Bucks.

The Winchester moves into former Two Bucks space

A new bar and restaurant concept is coming to the North Avenue bar scene next week when business partners Jay Stamates and Steve Gilbertson open The Winchester in the former Two Bucks space, 2321 N. Murray Ave.

"We’re going for a small town bar in a big city concept," says Stamates.

Gilbertson says they hope to create a cozy atmosphere that makes college students from small cities or towns – along with everyone else – feel at home.

"A lot of college kids from smaller cities have that one bar at home where they meet up with their friends when they come back for breaks and holidays," says Gilbertson. "We want to give them something like that on North Avenue."

Hence, the music will be primarily country and rock tunes. "A lot of sing-a-long stuff that everybody likes," says Gilbertson.

The menu – developed by Chef Frank Harroun from Lucky Joe’s Alchemy & Eatery – will feature bar food with a twist.

"Very sharable and mobile," says Gilbertson. "Food – like sliders – that you can walk around the bar with."

The Winchester will also serve brunch every Saturday and Sunday and offer a service industry brunch on Mondays.

The space, which formerly housed the bar and restaurant Two Bucks, had been empty since early May when the franchise owner, Lynne Forthaus, was accused of making racist comments toward African American patrons.

Forthuas made a public apology, but Two Bucks revoked her franchise license a few days later.

"The Winchester is not connected to Two Bucks in any way," says Stamates. 

Stamates and Gilbertson also own – along with other business partners – Jim’s Time Out, 746 N. James Lovell St., The Standard, 1754 N. Franklin Pl., and Tin Widow, 703 S. 2nd St.. Stamates co-owns Sabbatic, 700 S. 2nd St.

"The Winchester" name comes from Gilbertson’s favorite hangover movie, "Shaun of The Dead," which he’s seen with roommates "easily 100 times."

If Stamates and Gilbertson have their way, The Winchester will open to the public on Fr…

Welcome home, Fen!
Welcome home, Fen! (Photo: Facebook)

Dog and caregiver reunited after a month-long search

Last month, reported on Alana Wooldridge’s missing dog, Fenrir, a pitbull she adopted in New Orleans who disappeared from her yard on July 21. After weeks of searching, social media posts and daily interactions with various animal organizations, Alana and Fen were reunited tonight.

Earlier tonight, Alana received a Facebook message from a friend who spotted a dog that matched Fen’s description heading north between Locust Street and Capitol Drive.

"I went out looking, but didn't expect much. I hadn't had any real leads, and had given up hope for the most part," Alana says. "It was raining, but my friend and I went out anyway."

She searched the area and finally saw him, near the entrance to Interstate 43.

"Then there he was. Nose in the air, eyes slightly closed, ears blowing in the wind. He was taking a deuce," she says.

However, Alana says she did exactly what animal rescue experts had told her not to do – because emotion got the best of her.

"I started crying and called out to him, my arms spread out. Of course I scared him, and he evaded all our advances, at every turn," she says.

She kept following his direction, and saw him a few more times, always in the distance.

"Every time I would advance, he would dart. I could see in his eyes he wanted so badly to come to me, but he was so scared," she says.

Then a friend of hers suggested she bring his "girlfriend," a friend’s dog named Dalhia to the area where he was spotted.

"It worked like a magical charm, he ran right up to the fence when he saw her. We guided him to the opening of the fence, and voilá," she says. "I swear I almost fainted. It's a miracle, and I'm so happy. I hardly have words."

Tonight, Fen is hungry, thirsty, tired and a little freaked out. Alana will never know exactly how or why he disappeared from her yard almost exactly one month ago, but it doesn’t matter. Fen is home.

Remember this guy?
Remember this guy?

Is this Milwaukee's last piece of "dangerous" playground equipment?

It had been a while since I took my kids to Riverside Park, so when we went last week, I wondered if the metal merry-go-round was still in motion. Sure enough, it was.

Most of these old school, "dangerous" pieces of playground equipment are long gone, but for some reason, this one is still around in all of its vertigo-inducing glory.

In past years, every time I visited this park I saw a kid fly off the merry-go-round – without serious injury, luckily – and understood why most playgrounds don't have these '70s fun faves anymore.

However, I’m pleased we still have a merry-go-round on Milwaukee’s East Side. Sure, there’s risk involved, and sure, if you spend more than a few minutes near or on this fiercely rotating disc piled with small people you'll witness a few tears.

But mostly, you’ll hear kids belly laughing, living completely in the moment and yelling, "Faster, daddy, faster!"