Mike Shaffer would prefer you just call him Bay View Mike. After all, Shaffer is a life-long resident of the neighborhood, and he's worked at many, many bars in his 35 years, beginning at the American Legion Post on Kinnickinnic Avenue. For the last four years, he's been a fixture at Bay View Bowl, 2416 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
Shaffer says he stays in Bay View because it's a community.
"While it's feeling a great renaissance of more technology and art, it's still a very community-based, blue-collar neighborhood," he says. "People still look out for each other."
He's one of those guys that, if you live in the area, you know him at least by face. And chances are, Bay View Mike has poured you a drink.
OMC: How long have you been a bartender?
Mike Shaffer: Seventeen years. In the last seven years, I've been at Mama De Marini's. I've done some celebrity guest bartending for the Mike Eitel and Scott Johnson empires. I've always maintained a bartending license, but I've also been an insurance agent.
OMC: What's your signature drink?
MS: Probably the Old Fashioned. I do pour more of them here. But it's still a shot and a beer sort of joint.
OMC: What's your least favorite drink to make?
MS: Oh man, I still like making them, but on a Sunday afternoon and it's busy, people walk up and want five different Bloody Marys, five different ways. It gets to be a pain in the ass.
OMC: What's the most ridiculous moment you've had behind the bar?
MS: The stupidest thing that happened to me was in the middle of the dinner rush at De Marini's, and I went to go open the Guinness tapper and the entire faucet came off the box. I've got Guinness spraying six feet across the bar, horizontally, hitting a mirror and customers. I just ended up grabbing a pitcher, putting it over it, and running downstairs. I was pretty much covered in Guinness.
OMC: Have you broken up any bar fights?
MS: Yes. It's always stressful, but you always try not to let them escalate to that point. I got threatened by a one-armed guy, half my size, once. At that point, I was just like, "Leave."
OMC: What's the most creative pick-up line you've heard?
MS: I'm not a real big fan of the pick-up line. It's not something I pay that much attention to.
OMC: Do you drink while you bartend?
MS: Occasionally, yes. You have to be able to maintain a level. You have to be able to say, "Thank you for offering me a shot, but I just had one." You still have to be professional.
OMC: What bars do you go to when you're not working?
MS: I like Burnhearts. If I'm feeling a little more low-key, the Newport or Lulu. I pretty much stay in this neighborhood.
OMC: What's the best part of the job?
MS: The people. I get to meet and become friends with a lot of decent people.
OMC: What's your least favorite part?
MS: The people.
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 OnMilwaukee.com 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.