As we ride into 2010, it's time to think about the yays and nays of nightlife in the last year. There've been openings and closings, the impending indoor smoking ban and entire concept re-designs. But what has stayed consistent is our desire to go out, have a few drinks and enjoy all the city has to offer.
It’s hard to say whether we’ve gained or lost more over the last year. But the establishments that were forced to close didn’t remain empty for very long. VBar reopened as Ten Bells, the former Social space showed promise with Stack’d and Have a Nice Day Café jumped up a notch with Suite.
Looking to redesign their approaches and attract a new clientele, what was Tangerine is now Charro and Eve is now Apartment 720. Likewise, Moct re-invented its club/lounge style by adding a dining menu, flat screen televisions and weekly music, cultural and culinary events.
For most, the tried and true formula remained a Milwaukee favorite. Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge, 1579 S. 9th St., and Von Trier, 2235 N. Farwell Ave., each closed and re-opened in the last year, but kept the same approaches and reignited their local affinity. Diablos Rojos continued its affection for Belgian pubs with the addition of Café Hollander, 7677 W. State St., in Wauwatosa, and Café Centraal, 2306 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., in Bay View.
Thief Wine Bar, 400 N. Water St., combined shopping with sipping and invigorated the Milwaukee Public Market with a happy hour crowd who crave hard-to-find wines and vineyard education.
The fight over the smoking ban played itself out literally in the Bay View bar scene. Bars vehemently opposed to the ban, packed with a cloudy crew of in-house smokers, butt right up against bars that went non-smoking and encouraged others to do the same. In a community where local tradition met an influx of trendy development, the signs of clash were palpable.
Downtown, the smoke-free Whiskey Bar, 788 N. Jackson, packed in crowds when other bars were struggling, perhaps snuffing out doomsday predictions of empty bars post-smoking ban. Numerous other bars and clubs decided to kick the habit before the ban begins in July, including parts of Blackbird, Brocach, Café Centraal and Branded at the Iron Horse Hotel.
OnMilwaukee.com staff writer Maureen Post grew up in Wauwatosa. A lover of international and urban culture, Maureen received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
After living on the east side of Madison for several years, Maureen returned to Milwaukee in 2006.
After a brief stint of travel, Maureen joined OnMilwaukee.com as the city’s oldest intern and has been hooked ever since. Combining her three key infatuations, Milwaukee’s great music, incredible food and inspiring art (and yes, in that order), Maureen’s job just about fits her perfectly.
Residing in Bay View, Maureen vehemently believes the city can become fresh and new with a simple move across town.