Rarely do you see it the other way around, but Burnhearts, 2599 S. Logan Ave., opened with a bang Friday night.
Co-owners Tanya Bruski, Jessy McCluskey (both of whom did time behind the bar at The Nomad) and B.J. Seidel (of Comet Cafe fame) picked the busiest possible day for the grand opening: by participating in an "underground" Bay View bicycle pub crawl called the Tour de Farce.
As the second stop on the route, more than 100 beer-thirsty bikers (and a couple on roller skates) swarmed into the cozy corner tavern, which most recently was home to Flanigan's Call Box, a UFO-themed bar that seemed even a little weird for the ecclectic Bay View pub scene.
But after a complete renovation, Burnhearts has a style all unto its own: a mix resembling an upscale Parisian brothel with hipster decor set in the mold of a Mike Eitel creation (logical, since some of its owners used to work at The Nomad). The bar also sports a retro kitsch that looks a little like Jamo's Lounge on Arlington. Finish it off with artsy murals that deck the walls of the front portion, while the back room holds a pool table and a few private booths.
From the outside, Burnhearts looks as non-descript as can be, so far devoid of even signage. But the inside offers a colorful array of art glass lamps and freshly painted wall murals and two rooms worth of seating -- including a church pew back beside the pool table. Overall, the atmosphere marries the mood of a lounge with the unpretentiousness of a neighborhood hangout.
Clearly the bar was overwhelmed with thirsty bikers on Friday -- the bottled beer was understandably warm, given the extreme circumstances surrounding their first day in business.
Perhaps on a less hectic night customers can belly up to the bar and take better notice of Burnhearts' decent selection of import beers -- although, admittedly, the tavern seems as though it might be more of a haven for those prone to buying cheap and local rather than fancy ales from other countries. Sure enough, there is Schlitz on draught for a cool $2 and the specials board simply reads, "Ask for what's cold!" Very Milwaukee, indeed.
Admittedly, it was hard to get a true sense of the place, what with it bursting at the seams with excited patrons. Nevertheless, the music was good, the service was amazingly fast and friendly -- and when the dust settles, look for Burnhearts to be a great place to chill in Bay View's ever improving nightlife vibe.