By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published May 22, 2023 at 6:57 AM

The Pabst Theater Group is closing the intimate The Back Room at Colectivo venue, 2211 N. Prospect Ave., by the end of the year and relocating the venue to 1818 N. Farwell Ave., the group announced early Monday.

The new venue site. (PHOTO: New Land Enterprises)

The new venue will be located in a vacant portion of a single-story retail building – currently owned by New Land Enterprises –  that it will buy and renovate. The building was long home to a George Webb Restaurant, and when it was first built in the 1980s housed the second incarnation of the dearly departed Earwaves Records.

The new all-ages venue, which will also host weddings and events, is expected to open next year. Its renovation, including a facade redesign, is being done by The Kubala Washatko Architects.

The venue will open in a space that has been vacant for four years. The three restaurants currently operating in the Farwell Avenue building – Ethiopian Cottage, Chopstix and Domino's Pizza – will remain open and Pabst says it expects to make it possible for show-goers to order food from these restaurants to be delivered to the venue.

According to Pabst Theater Group, New Land had considered but never opened an events venue in the space.

"We’re extremely appreciative of the long and productive relationship we’ve had with Colectivo Coffee, partnering with them in various capacities for over 20 years,” said Gary Witt, president and CEO of the Pabst Theater Group.

“The Back Room itself happened as a bit of a happy accident, when we and our friends at Colectivo identified the need to bring more smaller bands into the market and offer them a space that nurtured their growth potential. In the nearly eight years since we’ve opened The Back Room, we’ve discovered how much it’s helped grow the Milwaukee club scene and support similar venues like it.

“We’re excited to keep this momentum and vitality going with a space that we can curate to better meet the needs of our audience and community and be part of the tremendous growth that Farwell Avenue is experiencing, including a new hotel.”

According to the Monday announcement, “ The new venue will include better artist accommodations, similar to other Pabst Theater Group backstage experiences, with a special back alley and garage for loading in equipment for shows.”

PTG began hosting concerts in the space behind Colectivo's original Prospect Avenue cafe in 2015, with a performance by English singer-songwriter Olivia Chaney on Sunday, June 14. Its contract with Colectivo expires at the close of 2023.

Read an Urban Spelunking story on the history of the Colectivo building here.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.