After spending much of the pandemic lying dormant, an Old World Third Street icon is opening its doors once again.
Buck Bradley's, 1019 N. Old World 3rd St., announced in a recent Facebook post that the saloon and eatery will reopen on Saturday, May 1 – just in time for the Kentucky Derby as well as the final stretch of the Bucks regular season slate (followed by hopefully a long playoff run).
"I love the ring of May Day, to be honest, and Derby Day just happens to be the earliest it's ever been, so why not work in that, also," said owner Walter Paget. "It just seemed like it was time to end up doing it.
"With the expansion of the capacity over at Fiserv Forum – and I think they'll end up having at least one more – you have a critical mass Downtown. And if you get enough energy, then you'll draw more people to be around that energy. So it'll be back to being worthwhile (to open) – and I can't wait to get back to work, anyway."
After first reopening back in June at the end of the quarantine, Buck Bradley's closed its doors again around Thanksgiving, struggling to make a profit without the usual buzz and bustle of nearby sporting events as well as holiday parties.
In case the past year wasn't brutal enough, Paget also had to mourn and cope with the death of his business partner and brother, Danny, who passed away in September due to pancreatic cancer at the age of 61. Even though his sibling is no longer with him and Buck Bradley's in person, Paget knows he'd be proud to see their bar crack open its doors again and reemerge after such a trying year.
"He would've wanted it that way," Paget noted. "He's in every brick of that building, and he's in every plank of wood in that bar. There isn't a seam or mortar joint in the place that doesn't have the ring of him in it."
Minus some tables and stools blocked off to continue encouraging social distancing, the historic and beloved interior of Buck Bradley's has remained the same from pre-pandemic times – and that includes much of the people inside as well, as Paget expects to return around 75 percent of his employees for the reopening.
"We've been a family – some of the people have been with me for over 20 years," Paget noted. "They've stuck with me, and hopefully they know that I'm sticking with them."
Outside, Paget said Buck Bradley's plans to participate in the city's recently extended Active Streets program, which allows restaurants to use of sidewalks, parking lanes and travel lanes for additional patio seating.
When it reopens in May, Buck Bradley's will have new adjusted kitchen hours, with food available from 4-9 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Fridays, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sundays. The bar itself will be open 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and Sunday from 9 a.m. until 1 a.m. Buck Bradley's will, however, remain closed on Tuesdays, though Paget notes that that could change (as well as the kitchen hours) depending on the scheduling of nearby events, like Bucks home games.
It all marks a small step toward returning to pre-pandemic normalcy – but for Paget and for fans of the landmark bar, after a difficult year, it's a more than welcome one.
"When I ended up announcing that we were reopening, I was just absolutely touched by how many people ended up contacting me directly, coming up to me when I was out at some other joints and the support that the ended up giving," Paget said. "My gratitude for their patience and my gratitude for their appreciation – that the place actually means something to some people. Because it definitely means something to me."
As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.
When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.