By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Dec 21, 2010 at 4:08 PM

One of Riverwest's signature watering holes re-opens this week after being closed for months.

River Horse, 701 E. Center St., will be back in business Wednesday with several familiar faces behind the bar, including the bar's previous owner Scott Radtke.

The aesthetic changes to the bar are minimal: a few new giant stencil murals from the "Love and Rockets" comic books in the back room, a new art piece from Eric Von Munz, a fresh paint job in the front room, extended seating at and a foot rail at the bar, and a row of wooden benches and lowered tables lining the bar's west wall.

"It's kind of the same old place ...we didn't want to mess with it too much. We just wanted to do a general upgrade and try to take some of the graffiti off the walls in the bathroom," Radtke said.

The bar closed in September after an eight-year run. Radtke, who had been the bar's sole owner up to that point, said running the business by himself had become overwhelming.

"It seems like a pretty simple job until you are doing it. I had done it a few years and I needed a break. I needed some help," said Radtke, "I couldn't even like leave town for five days without getting a phone call."

Radtke partnered with Jay Stamates, who owns Sabbatic at 700 S. 2nd St. in Walker's Point, and several minority investors during the downtime.

Returning patrons won't be stunned by the changes, with neighborhood DJs, a pinball machine and cheap drinks carrying over from the bar's previous incarnation.

"It's the same place. We didn't change the name. The staff is a little bit different but the staff was always different," joked Radtke, "It's got a history and we wanted to upgrade it and keep as much of that history intact as possible."

Bar hours will be 5 p.m. until closing time, and 4 p.m. until closing time on Saturday. And a string of DJs is already scheduled to kick off the bar's extended re-opening with Tony Schwader and Andy Junk spinning the re-opening party.

At least one big thing has changed during the bar's closure. The notoriously noxious restrooms looked spiffy clean during a sneak peek, with the stench of days past seemingly vanished along with the layers and layers of old graffiti.

"We were restructuring the business and had to close and re-license and everything and I think we just took advantage of that situation and made a few little tweaks and made the place more comfortable," Radtke said.