The letter "M" is not only the first and last letter of Melissa Beastrom's name, but it's also the name of her new bar: a lounge and soon-to-be restaurant called M's that quietly opened a few weeks ago at 1101 S. 2nd St. in the old Jacques Café space.
The "M" in M's is also a nod to the M&M Club, a popular Third Ward bar and restaurant that closed last spring, where Beastrom played piano almost every Sunday night for four years. A few of her bartenders are former employees of the M&M Club, which was a favorite of many gay, as well as straight, Milwaukeeans.
"These are the same 'famous' bartenders that made the M&M Club so much fun, and do they know how to shake up a cocktail," says Milwaukee musician Sarah Kozar (Riverwest Accordion Club; Sarah K's Dangerous Trio) who performed at the M&M Club and plans to take the stage at M's in the near future.
Beastrom, along with business partner and girlfriend Janet Osbourne, bought the 2nd Street building earlier this year. They kept the original ceiling and floor, but hired Cieslik Celek Interior Design to give the rest of the space a "major facelift." It now features exposed Cream City brick, muted colors and dark wood.
The space isn't completely finished-- a full kitchen is still under construction and will be finished by spring. Like the M&M Club, M's will serve lunches, brunches and dinners, including a Friday night fish fry.
"We're definitely trying to recreate the good parts of the M&M (Club)," says Beastrom.
M's allows smoking in the main lounge, but features a smoke-free side room. There is one smoke eater in the space, and Beastrom says she plans to add a second.
Beastrom and Osbourne opened M's on Friday, Oct. 13, and since then, have experienced mostly good luck. At times, Beastrom says, there has been a long line of customers waiting outside to get into the lounge.
"I always wanted to own a place that provided different forms of entertainment," says Beastrom, 42, a formally trained pianist who started playing at age six.
Beastrom studied music at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa -- where she met Osbourne in 1982 -- and says entertainment is a very important element of their bar. In the near future, M's will feature a piano bar cocktail hour (yes, Beastrom will occasionally tickle the ivories), sing-a-longs, a variety of floorshows and karaoke.
Also, M's will air Packer games and other sporting events on two flat screen televisions in the bar.
Beastrom doesn't consider M's to be a "gay bar." She sees M's as a place that welcomes all types of people and lifestyles, much like Riverwest's eclectic Art Bar.
"The overall goal is to provide a comfortable gathering place where everyone feels welcome. We're anticipating a very diverse clientele," she says.
M's is open Tuesday-Friday from 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. Hours may change when the restaurant opens.
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.