After 56 years of operation, Steve’s on Bluemound, 5841 W. Bluemound Rd., is on the cusp of a big transition, as the bar changes hands from current owners Scottie (Steve) and Sam Salaja to another veteran bar and restaurant owner, Mark Zierath.
If all goes well, Zierath says he hopes to debut the new bar and restaurant –which will be renamed Magoo’s on the Mound – with minimal disruption of service in time for the Brewers’ opening day.
Zierath, who currently operates Ella’s Public House in Delafield, along with Von Trier and The Red Mill Inn & Pizza in partnership with Brian Eft, says Steve’s on Bluemound has been a longtime favorite of his.
“Steve’s was the first bar where I drank after I hit legal drinking age,” he says, noting that he grew up in the neighborhood, just off of 64th and Bluemound.
"I went to Sacred Heart grade school and Juneau High School. I know people there, and I know a lot of the business owners on that stretch. So, I’m really excited to be a part of the neighborhood and work with other owners moving forward. ... It’s like coming home.”
Zierath says he chose the name Magoo’s on the Mound, not only as a nod to the bar’s location (and proximity to American Family Field), but also in memory of his first bar, Magoo’s, which he opened in West Allis in 1997.
“I operated Magoo’s for seven years before selling it,” he says. “And the new owners kept the name for about that same length of time before renaming it. So, I thought it was about time to bring it back.”
Zierath says that, aside from the name, he doesn’t plan to make many immediate changes to the longtime bar. In fact, guests can expect largely the same look and feel, as well as offerings like shuttles to Brewers games. But he says he will be bringing back a consistent food menu.
“They’ve done a great job with the space,” he says. “Everything has been really well-maintained. So there’s not a whole lot we need to do. But we will be cleaning it up just a bit and revamping the kitchen, which has been in and out of use for years.”
The kitchen is small, he says, so they will aim for a small, targeted menu of bar staples, including wings, burgers and a Friday night fish fry. Due to its size, Zierath says, there may be limited options on wing and fish fry nights, ensuring they can keep up with demand.
Big plans for the future
Despite his aim to keep the longtime bar running with relatively minimal changes, he says he does have plans for the contiguous property behind the bar.
“The property extends back to St. Paul Avenue,” says Zierath. “And currently there’s a garage right behind the bar that they’ve been renting out for added income.”
Provided all goes well with his plans and permits from the city, he says he’d like to make use of the lot and garage, transforming it into an indoor/outdoor beer garden style venue called The Bullpen.
“Ideally, we’ll open it up on three sides,” he says, “with garage doors that open and close. And if we can, I’d like to install a large fire pit or fireplace in the center so that we have a large, open-air space even in the winter.”
Zierath says he hopes The Bullpen will not only be a great addition to Magoo’s on the Mound, but also serve as an example of the type of indoor-outdoor environments that are likely to be popular post-pandemic.
“I really want to work with the city closely on this.” he says. “And I’d love for it to be a model of a post-COVID environment that accommodates guests with a big, open-air year-round space.”
If all goes well, he says, he’d love for The Bullpen to debut by spring of 2022.
“Overall," Zierath says, "I’m really excited about this opportunity. It's a great bar. And it has a great location in terms of its proximity to Miller Park ... I’m excited to keep it going.”
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.