By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Apr 15, 2004 at 5:42 AM

{image1}After nine years, Riverwest's Foundation is transitioning from a skate punk-ish smoking den to a hip, Hawaiian lounge featuring everything from soul 45s to "The Simpsons" to breastfeeding mothers.

"(We're going for) a cozy, cleaner, slightly tropical lounge with patio seating to accommodate the diversity of the Riverwest neighborhood," says owner Charles Jordan.

"We love Riverwest. Both Don (Nelson, the manager) and I chose to buy houses and make it our home."

The new tiki-loco theme is a work in progress and the result of Nelson's imagination and sweat labor. So far, the walls are freshly painted red, the windows trimmed in leopard skin, and on some nights, there are as many tiki statues as there are patrons.

The front room also features two mammoth tattoo-art pieces -- one of a fish and one, surprise, of a tiki head -- created by "Flash" artist Paul Block. The back room is a blank canvas.

Jordan and Nelson, who is a member of the surf band The Exotics, feature some form of a fiesta very night of the week. For instance, Monday nights are tagged "The Soul Hole" with Dave Monroe spinning soul 45s.

Tuesdays are "Tiki Nite" (and have been for nearly a decade) with lounge, surf, exotica and island-sized cocktails.

"We currently feature the 'Surfrider' and the 'Blue Malahini' but many other concoctions are available upon request, especially weeknights after 10 p.m. when Don is in drag," says Jordan.

Wednesday nights host a guest DJ, Fridays bring a frenzy of punk and garage rock and every Sunday Jordan plays his favorite records and new releases from Atomic Records.

On Thursday nights, Milwaukee moms belly up to the bar to talk trash with bartendress and mother Wendy Ruenger who started an informal Thursday night "Milk Club" for thirsty matriarchs. Ruenger is quick to uncap a beer or mix a martini -- including her famous "Brazen Hussy."

Ruenger usually brings in healthy homemade snacks or crock pot creations. On a recent Thursday she had a sweet spread of homemade granola and lemon bars.

"The whole goal of the 'Milk Club' is to get moms out of the house to relax, have a drink and share stories, recipes, whatever," says Ruenger. "It's a 'Calgon take me away' kind of thing.'"

Overall, Jordan and Nelson strive for a comfortable and friendly vibe, a diverse clientele, a variety of quality music and the occasional Marge or Homer spotting on the bar's television.

"'The Simpsons' are a favorite and pair nicely with our Lakefront specials," Jordan says.

The Foundation, 2718 N. Bremen St., is open every night from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. and will open earlier during the summer months for patrons to enjoy the new outdoor seating. For more information, call (414) 374-2587.

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.