By Brian O'Shea   Published Sep 18, 2003 at 6:22 AM

Take away all the thrills and frills of a typical Water Street tavern and you're left with the bare essentials: booze and a jukebox. Bob E O's, 6317 W. Bluemound Ave., is a "what you see is what you get" type of establishment. There are no dartboards, billiards or DJ booths, yet something keeps customers coming back.

"It's a nice working man's bar," says owner Bob Ostrowski. "I'm the cheapest on Bluemound, both drink and foodwise."

True, that is a bold statement. However, if Ostrowski's tavern isn't the cheapest on Bluemound, it has to be close. The doors opened eight years ago this October, and it doesn't look like Ostrowski's patrons plan on changing their routine anytime soon. Most domestic beers on tap are only a buck. Bottles and rails are about $2.50. Happy hour is daily from 4 to 7 p.m.

And to call Bob E O's food prices "reasonable" may be an understatement Until Sept. 15, the menu only consisted of soup and sandwiches, but now Ostrowski has added breakfast items that will be available beginning at 7 a.m.

Lunch items are available every day between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. and most of the lunch menu is under $4. Sandwiches include B.L.T.'s, grilled cheese, ham and cheese, chicken or turkey breast and tuna salad. The most expensive item on lunch menu is the rueben, which costs a whopping $5.25.

Earlier in the summer, Bob E O's stopped serving a Friday fish fry and several other tasty Friday night entrees, but Ostrowski says he plans to introduce new dinner options, like baby back ribs, steak, and seafood, at the same time he starts serving breakfast. All dinner items will cost about $10.

"Nobody can afford to go out no more. That makes the restaurant business very hard," says Ostowski. "I've got a very good mixed crowd. In the mornings, there are my locals. They keep me surviving."

With an attitude like that, the bar is making its nitch in the neighborhood. Ostrowski is on a first name basis with practically all of his customers. There are several union and veteran group meetings held in either the dining room or the hall located downstairs. Both rooms are available for parties and weddings and each room holds over a hundred people.

On the walls of Bob E O's are several certificates of appreciation from a number of military organizations. Each certificate commends Ostrowski for his cooperation or involvement in a particular event. A veteran of the Army, Ostrowski earned the rank of staff sergeant in Vietnam, and he still does what he can to help out the local veterans.

"The city is getting too picky," says Ostrowski. "I lose too much with all the festivals going on. I'd be better off shutting the place down, but I care about my customers. They're both customers and friends. Those are the people I care about."

Bob E O's may not be a high-class club or a place to dance and get your groove on, but you can get a stiff drink for cheap, especially when they open up at 7 a.m.

For more information call (414) 453-3580.