For more than two years, Chris Clausen has spent most of his evenings behind the bar at the Swingin’ Door Exchange, 219 E. Michigan Ave.
Recently OnMilwaukee stopped in for Tuesday night tacos, three cans of Pabst (three cans for $5!) and to chat with Clausen about Racine bars and restaurants, "Ghostbusters" and his very first swig of beer.
OnMilwaukee: You drive to Downtown Milwaukee from Racine for work three or four times a week. Why don’t you move here?
Chris Clausen: For me, it’s because of my friends. We are a very tight group. I live with my best friend, who I’ve known for almost 26 years. My friends are my chosen family.
OnMilwaukee: Where are your favorite places to eat in Racine?
Clausen: I really like a Korean restaurant called Asiana; Old Madrid is good, too, for Spanish tapas. There’s a lot of great pizza places in Racine, too: Wells Brothers, Derango’s, Mike & Angelo’s.
But my all-time favorite Racine restaurant was Totero’s. It was an Italian restaurant, open for like 75 years and only for lunch. They’d serve until they ran out of food. They had a very limited menu, and we always went on Wednesdays for the lasagna. It was silly delicious. Totero’s was one of those places you just don’t come across very often.
Unfortunately, a lot of people who live in Racine prefer to go to Red Lobster and Applebee’s.
OnMilwaukee: Kewpie’s – yes or no?
Clausen: Kewpie’s, yes! I grew up going there.
OnMilwaukee: What are your favorite Racine bars?
Clausen: The bar I’ve gone to the longest and the most is Ivanhoe Pub & Eatery. I actually worked there for seven years. I also like to go to Evelyn’s, McAuliffe’s and Pepi’s. My roommate bartends there – it’s a deli and bar with old school pinball machines.
OnMilwaukee: Do you get a lot of out-of-town people at the Swingin' Door?
Clauseun: Yeah, we get people from all over the world because of the hotels. We get a lot of people from around here, too. We have incredible food – it's truly some of the best pub food I have ever eaten.
OnMilwaukee: What’s the best item on the menu?
Claseun: Oh, wow. I love the blackened chicken bacon avocado sandwich. The reuben is really, really good, too.
OnMilwaukee: What do you like to do when you’re not working?
Clausen: I like to hang out with my friends, go golfing, watch movies.
OnMilwaukee: What’s your favorite movie?
Clausen: Probably "Ghostbusters." I used to watch it over and over on VHS when I was a kid and could act out every scene. I would literally watch it, rewind it and watch it again. Drove my parents nuts. It taught me a lot about sarcasm … and Bill Murray. It was my religion.
OnMilwaukee: What is your favorite drink to make?
Clausen: I’m a huge fan of old school cocktails. I like making martinis and side cars – they’re very delicious.
OnMilwaukee: What are some to-do items on your bucket list?
Clausen: I really want to travel. I’m 31 now, and the first 31 years went so quickly. I recognize I’ll be 60 in no time. I don’t want to live my entire life solely in Wisconsin. I want to travel 'cross country by myself, as cheaply as possible and see the real stuff. I hate touristy places with a passion.
But, to be honest with you, I think the idea of a bucket list makes you afraid of dying, and I’m not afraid of it. Whatever I accomplish before I die is enough; it will be fine with me.
OnMilwaukee: What is your favorite alcoholic beverage to drink?
Clausen: Pabst and whiskey – any Irish whiskey. People have been calling me a hipster for a long time because of the Pabst, but I don’t like it, or anything, ironically. I’ve drank Pabst my entire life. I loved it from the first time I tasted it. And it’s the only beer that’s ever won a blue ribbon.
OnMilwaukee: Do you remember your first sip of beer?
Clausen: I have the same story every guy in the world probably has: your dad or grandpa gave you a sip of beer on a warm summer day and said, "don’t tell your mother."
Molly Snyder grew up on Milwaukee's East Side and today, she lives in the Walker's Point neighborhood with her partner and two sons.
As a full time senior writer, editorial manager and self-described experience junkie, Molly has written thousands of articles about Milwaukee (and a few about New Orleans, Detroit, Indianapolis, Boston and various vacation spots in Wisconsin) that range in subject from where to get the best cup of coffee to an in-depth profile on the survivors of the iconic Norman apartment building that burned down in the '90s.
She also once got a colonic just to report on it, but that's enough on that.
Always told she had a "radio voice," Molly found herself as a regular contributor on FM102, 97WMYX and 1130WISN with her childhood radio favorite, Gene Mueller.
Molly's poetry, essays and articles appeared in many publications including USA Today, The Writer, The Sun Magazine and more. She has a collection of poetry, "Topless," and is slowly writing a memoir.
In 2009, Molly won a Milwaukee Press Club Award. She served as the Narrator / writer-in-residence at the Pfister Hotel from 2013-2014. She is also a story slam-winning storyteller who has performed with The Moth, Ex Fabula and Risk!
When she's not writing, interviewing or mom-ing, Molly teaches tarot card classes, gardens, sits in bars drinking Miller products and dreams of being in a punk band again.