In 2004, Paul and Kristine Budiac opened Paulie’s Pub and Eatery, 8031 W. Greenfield Ave., and nine years later to the day – in June 2013 – the couple opened Paulie’s Field Trip right around the corner at 1430 S. 81 St.
"We’re either stupid twice or really onto something great," says Paul.
The two West Allis establishments are completely different environments. Paulie’s is a popular lunch spot offering a daily lunch buffet and a full dinner menu as well as a rollicking night spot/sports bar.
Paulie’s Field Trip is much smaller – cozier, if you will – with the intention of offering the look and feel of a mellow Up North-type tavern. It was also inspired by West Bend bars that Paul’s father took him to as a child.
"We didn’t have garbage pick up, so we brought our garbage to the dump. And after taking out the trash, all the dads would stop off at local bars," says Paul. "It’s where we learned bar bowling and how to eat beef jerky."
The tagline and goal of Paulie’s Field Trip is to "experience Wisconsin from your bar stool."
"It has a good warm feeling," he says. "If you've ever been to an Up North bar when snowmobiling, you know this type of place."
Field Trip is a clean, contemporary "towney bar" featuring 12 local micro brews, local spirits from Great Lakes Distillery and Rumchata, and, eventually, a small, locally-sourced menu featuring grass-fed burgers and chicken sandwiches, Nueske's liver sausage sandwiches and a few other classic old school tavern foods with a twist.
"We might have some ‘I dare you to eat this’ type of pickled products, too," says Paul.
Currently, Field Trip serves Watertown-made Emil’s pizzas or customers can also order food from Paulie’s Pub and Eatery and have it delivered. Paulie’s Pub and Eatery's menu features a solid selection of pizza, sandwiches and two fish fry options.
With the help of friends and family, Paul – who jokes his liver is named "Paulie" – remodeled both of the bars extensively in a short amount of time prior to opening. Before the Budiacs bought the places, Paulie’s was Bunker’s Mainstreet and The Painted Parrot and Paulie’s Field Trip was Lois’ Derby.
"It was very dark in here, says Kristine. "Completely different from how it is now."
Paul restored the large half-oval bar at Field Trip – per Kristine’s request – and put new lightwood paneling on the walls and took out the dropped ceiling. (Can we agree that taking out a dropped ceiling is always a good idea?)
Both bars offer special theme nights. Every Monday, Field Trip hosts an open jam and anyone who sings and plays signs a guitar behind the bar that gets raffled off at the end of the month.
At Paulie’s Pub & Eatery, trivia takes place every Wednesday night at 7 p.m. and live music every Friday and Saturday. On Friday nights, there’s a two-for-one special from 10 to 11 p.m. that also runs on Saturday nights from 9 to 10 p.m.
Paulie’s also offers a shuttle service to Brewers games.
Prior to opening Paulie’s in 2004, Paul co-owned PJ McGoo’s in Kewaskum and bartended at a couple of bars in Germantown.
"I’ve been bartending since I was 17 and my parents would have parties at our house," says Paul. "I’d set up a bar and make drinks."
Paul and Kristine, who have been married for 10 years, are finally at the point where they are able to spend a little less time at the two places. They have only vacationed twice in their decade of marriage and would like to spend more than a day or two enjoying rural Wisconsin. Now, with 32 employees and the economy seemingly in a better place, this just might happen.
However, no matter how successful the businesses become, Paul will most likely continue to take bar tending shifts, simply because he enjoys it.
"I like talking to different people. You never know what people’s situations are – if they’ve had a death or a divorce or what’s going on," says Paul. "But in any case, it’s not about you. It’s about them. And I like to think that I might be able to change somebody's day for the better."
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.