"Bar Month" at OnMilwaukee.com is back for another round – brought to you by Aperol, Pinnacle, Jameson, Fireball, Red Stag and Avion. The whole month of February, we're serving up intoxicatingly fun articles on bars and clubs – including guides, the latest trends, bar reviews and more. Grab a designated driver and dive in!
I’ve been in Milwaukee long enough to know that my fellow city dwellers hate being compared to the people 90 miles to the south in Chicago. More often than not, it’s because of the inferiority complex developed over the decades, whether it be in business, sports or the skyline.
Having lived in both, Milwaukee is just fine and stands on its own. I don’t often compare the two cities, but a recent experience made it unavoidable.
In the west suburbs of Chicago, I frequented the Hollywood Boulevard movie theater. It’s a great place – full service bar in the lobby, big, comfortable chairs, and a great dinner menu to order from. What’s great about it is that a server comes to you before the movie starts, you place your order, and it’s delivered to you.
The wait staff also checks in during the film to see if you need dessert, or a drink refill. You would think this disrupts the movie going experience, but it doesn’t – it only adds to it.
It was definitely a place I missed when I came to Milwaukee full time. So, needless to say, I was pretty excited to visit the iPic at Bayshore when I heard it was similar.
Having never been there, I visited the website and took the virtual tour. The tour gives you the impression that it’s just like the Hollywood Boulevard experience.
"We do food service for the first 20 minutes of the feature" the host says, and they show an employee bringing the food in. It also says you can get blankets to kick back and relax in.
Unfortunately, when I got to iPic, it was nothing like this. I waited in line to order food, which was fine – it skips the step of having waitstaff traipse around the theater – but I was disappointed to find out that the menu was filled with bar food, rather than dinner fare.
Then, I had to provide a phone number for the bar to text to tell me the food was ready, which is kind of a problem when you go into a theater and the reception is spotty at best. This also required getting out of my seat when the show started.
I was also disappointed that when I attempted to order an alcoholic drink, I was told to exit the line I waited in, get in another line and wait for it to be prepared.
First, I didn’t have that kind of time – I didn’t arrive 30 minutes before the show, thinking I’d have a service staff taking care of this. Second, the prices were ridiculous for basically carry out service of appetizers and sodas (I didn’t have time to order alcoholic drinks!) – for two people it was nearly a $100 day.
I rarely "miss" Chicago – there is plenty to do and see here, and plenty of great bars and restaurants to visit and enjoy. But in this one instance, Milwaukee failed to compare.
Jim Owczarski is an award-winning sports journalist and comes to Milwaukee by way of the Chicago Sun-Times Media Network.
A three-year Wisconsin resident who has considered Milwaukee a second home for the better part of seven years, he brings to the market experience covering nearly all major and college sports.
To this point in his career, he has been awarded six national Associated Press Sports Editors awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, breaking news and projects. He is also a four-time nominee for the prestigious Peter J. Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism, presented by the Chicago Headline Club, and is a two-time winner for Best Sports Story. He has also won numerous other Illinois Press Association, Illinois Associated Press and Northern Illinois Newspaper Association awards.
Jim's career started in earnest as a North Central College (Naperville, Ill.) senior in 2002 when he received a Richter Fellowship to cover the Chicago White Sox in spring training. He was hired by the Naperville Sun in 2003 and moved on to the Aurora Beacon News in 2007 before joining OnMilwaukee.com.
In that time, he has covered the events, news and personalities that make up the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, NCAA football, baseball and men's and women's basketball as well as boxing, mixed martial arts and various U.S. Olympic teams.
Golf aficionados who venture into Illinois have also read Jim in GOLF Chicago Magazine as well as the Chicago District Golfer and Illinois Golfer magazines.