Charlie Chaparas left a 14-year career to work at Camino, 434 S. 2nd St., as a bartender and he couldn’t be more satisfied with his decision. OnMilwaukee recently stopped in to talk to Chaparas about beer, Thailand and (dun dun dun!) the future.
OnMilwaukee: How long have you been working at Camino, and what were you doing before that?
Charlie Chaparas: I started working here in November. Prior to that I worked for Beer Capitol for 14 years. I quit in August with nothing planned and came here one day to have lunch with Casey (the owner). He asked me if I wanted to start bartending again. I said "sure," and the rest is history.
Where did you bartend in the past?
About 15 years ago I worked at Kelly’s Bleachers and O’Brien’s.
What do you like about bartending?
I like the interactions with people – it’s fun. I couldn’t work just anywhere. We have great food, great drinks and a great environment. This is a place I can back and support.
What are your favorite drinks to make and, when you're not working, consume?
After so many years working for Beer Capitol, I’m more of a beer guy. I like to drink Miller High Life mostly, but I like craft beers here and there. I’ve learned a lot about making cocktails since I started here, and now I like to make and drink all different drinks – Old Fashioneds, you name it.
Did you grow up in Milwaukee?
Yep, South Side, 44th and Oklahoma. Graduated from Pius.
What neighborhood do you live in now?
I live on the Northwest Side.
That’s an interesting tattoo on your arm. What does it mean?
I was in Thailand a couple of months ago and got it from a Buddhist monk. It’s a Thai protection tattoo.
What brought you to Thailand?
I had a good friend living there and I went to visit. It was great – saw the ruins, old temples, palaces. Thailand has beautiful beaches, but I'm not really a beach guy.
Thailand was the first stamp in my passport. Someday I want to go to Greece and Prague, which is my heritage.
Any major life goals or taking it one day at a time?
I’m here bartending right now and I love it. I could see myself opening a place in a couple of years. I’m not not looking at anything, but could see it happening someday.
You’re relatively new to the Walker’s Point scene. What do you think?
Yeah, I was always working or going out on the West Side. Walker’s Point is cool. Bartenders from all over the city come here to visit other bartenders. There’s a great community here.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
Everything. I love going out. I'm also a creature of habit and find myself here even when I’m not working because ... I like it here.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.