"Bar Month" at OnMilwaukee.com – brought to you by Hornitos, OR-G, Party Armor, Red Stag, Absolut, Fireball and Malibu – is back for another round! 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!
Milwaukee's a tavern town, so while some places endure for decades, many bars tend to come and go in the course of a year. Sometimes the changes are so numerous that it feels nearly impossible to keep up.
To help you get up to speed, here are some of the changes in the Milwaukee scene in 2011. If you want to add others, please use the Talkback feature at the bottom.
We start not with a bar closing, but with a tribute. Milwaukee lost barkeep Robert David Rubner, co-owner of McBob's, in March after a long illness. It seemed especially sad and ironic that Rubner left just days before St. Patrick's Day. Though Rubner, who was 58, is missed, we suspect he'd be happy to know that McBob's is still a great Milwaukee tap.
On the East Side, Live on North – which had replaced The Globe, which had replaced The Boardwalk – closed in January and after a pretty major makeover, the Hotel Foster replaced it in April.
Russ Davis' Red Accordion closed in February on Old World Third Street, but by summer the space was occupied by The Loaded Slate.
Down in Walker's Point, former Brown Bottle Pub manager Linda Sackett bought Slim McGinn's in February and renamed it O'Lydia's.
Though not only a bar, the beloved Bavarian Inn served its last bootful of beer in March.
East Town sports bar Zim's closed in February, but reopened five months later Walker's Point in old Fifth Ward Pub & Grill. Meanwhile, Catch 22 opened in spring in the first Zim's location at 770 N. Milwaukee St. Last week Mike Zimmer closed Zim's for good.
The second Walker's Point incarnation of The Dubliner, this one on National Avenue, closed early in the year, and Lo-Cash Live opened there in July.
Cafe Brucke, on Prospect and Windsor, didn't change ownership, but altered its focus and its name – it's now Allium – in spring.
Mollica's on National Avenue, well-known for its shuttles to nearby Miller Park, closed June 30. Right around the same time Whiskey River, which replaced Bootlegger's on Old World Third Street, closed, and was, in turn, replaced by Shemmy N Lemmy's Irish Rec Room.
Long Wong's on Bluemound Road, closed in summer after owner Paul Wong suffered a stroke and continued to struggle with health issues.
Back on Water Street, McGillycuddy's closed in August but opened a few weeks later under the same ownership as Red Rock Saloon up the street and The Library Club beneath Beans 'N' Barley.
The Third Ward's BTW Lounge, closed in September, around the same time Buffalo Water Beer Bar closed in the Public Market in September
Kafevino announced on Oct. 18 that it would close for "a little vacation" and reopen on Nov. 1, but it remains shut as of this writing.
The Calderone Pub – in the old Tamarack and Daily Planet space on State Street – closed and Dehne's Upper 90 Sports Pub opened in the historic Schlitz tavern in autumn.
The North Avenue club under Beans 'N' Barley, Decibel, was transformed into The Library later in the year, and around the same time, Cudahy rock and roll club Vnuk's became The Blue Pig.
Our intrepid Milwaukee tavern hound College Dave Mikolajek noted that the Drink 'Em Up was renamed the Stumble Inn, and among the West Side closures are Friends First on 57th and Mitchell, and D&D's, Rocco's and Shauna's – all on Hawley Road between I-94 and Greenfield Avenue – and all potentially doomed by the road construction on the street last year.
Rocco's has since reopened as Remedy and Shauna's is now Bulldog 60.
Whether or not 2012 will be a more subdued year in terms of bar scene vicissitudes remains unclear, but the year did get off to a quick start with the closing of The Dog's Bollocks on Murray Avenue on the East Side.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.