By Andy Tarnoff Publisher Published Jun 07, 2004 at 5:44 AM

{image1} When they bought the Cream City brick Bay View building, it was supposed to become the new home of a tile studio and gallery. But as Joe Katz, his sister Jen Rosenberg and her husband Jason began to discover the potential of the unique space, they knew they had to do more.

"We had to open a bar," says Katz, and that's exactly what he plans to do this summer with The Highbury, 2320 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., a European sports-themed lounge featuring a nouveau Mexican hacienda and decorative tile motif. Katz says he's shooting to open around Aug. 1.

According to Rosenberg, the group didn't abandon its original plan -- it just expanded upon it. The tile studio, Sumo Industries, will remain intact and will operate upstairs.

But the artistic tile theme will permeate throughout the bar, as well.

Katz, who most recently served as manager of the East Side's successful Nomad Pub and Trocadero, brings a decade of bar experience to his new venture. And, if all goes according to plan, The Highbury promises to be Bay View's most upscale lounge yet. Katz says the venture will focus on live music, good beer and wine, and of course, soccer (Highbury is the North London home of soccer's Arsenal, and is considered to be a virtual mecca for the sport).

"I love all sports, so if the Bucks are playing, I'll show the game," says Katz. "But I'm a soccer player, so soccer will be present every day."

Thirsty soccer fans should have no problem finding an appropriate ale to toast their team with, too.

"We'll have a nice beer selection," says Rosenberg. "We bought a really huge cooler, so we'll have at least 75 different beers." They will also sell wine until 9 p.m.

And if that's not enough, the owners are also planning on plenty of live music, even including sleeping quarters for traveling bands upstairs.

"Live music is key in my life," says Katz. "This whole place is about music, actually. The music playing in the background is always going to be good, too."

Situated across the street from the Bay View Family Restaurant -- a 24-hour diner -- and kitty corner from the already popular Café Lulu, Katz says they picked the perfect location for a new bar. He's also staying true to his own neighborhood, as Katz and Rosenberg have owned a house in Bay View since 1999.

Katz says he's hoping his upscale lounge will raise the bar on the rapidly redeveloping Kinnickinnic Avenue bar scene.

To that end, Katz and Rosenberg are pushing the envelope on architecture in a neighborhood that's still home to more corner taverns than upscale pubs. The unique look of the lounge was created by Sup Designs and John Schroeder, a firm known for making Milwaukee bars more cool.

With a proposed patio and a futuristic exterior made with Polygal and strip lights that will reflect different colors and lights, The Highbury will certainly look different than your run-of-the-mill South Side tavern.

"The exterior will be really cool," says Katz. "When you shine light on it, it glows."

If it all sounds like a lot to cram into one space, it is. So will soccer, tiles, live music with outdoor seating and upscale wines succeed in Bay View? Katz and Rosenberg are betting it will.

"We figured, let's lead the way instead of trying to catch up on the end," says Katz.

Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.

Before launching in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.

Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.