“Bar Month” at OnMilwaukee.com is back for another round! The whole month of February, we’re serving up intoxicatingly fun bars and club articles -- including guides, bartender profiles, drink recipes and even a little Brew City bar history. Cheers!
Milwaukee is loaded with neighborhood watering holes that don’t have trendy themes or fancy drinks. In fact, there’s practically one of these bars on every corner, and even though people usually don’t travel far to visit these simple taps, they are integral to Brew City’s culture and serve an important role in the lives of the regulars.
Ray and Dot’s, 6351 W. Grange Ave., is one of these places.
A modest bar attached to an American Legion Post, Ray and Dot’s claim to fame is its cheap prices. The Greendale tavern serves 90-cent taps of Bud, Bud Light and Michelob Ultra. Imported and micro beers are available and modestly priced, too. A Stella Artois, for example, is $2.50. Rail drinks are always $1.50.
Marc Koepsel inherited the bar from his parents, Ray and Dorothy (“Dot”), who opened it in 1957. Originally, the bar and legion were in a farmhouse, which started out as a boarding house for the first school teacher in Greenfield.
In 1969, the farmhouse was torn down and replaced with the current structure. Koepsel grew up in a three-room apartment upstairs.
“I started mowing the lawn here and setting up for bingo (at the American Legion) when I was 14,” says Koepsel.
In 1995, Koepsel became the sole owner of Ray and Dot’s. His father, Ray, passed away five years ago, but his mother is still alive. Koepsel says he strives to preserve what the bar has always been: a neighborhood hangout known for its pool table, dartboards and cheap prices.
“It’s a ‘Cheers’-like place with a lot of friendly people and good conversation,” says Koepsel. “My parents started it out as a ‘workingman’s bar’ of the ‘50s and ‘60s and I try to keep it that way.
“Our customers range from 21 to 85,” says Koepsel.
To appeal to the vastly different ages of the bar’s customers, the bartenders keep the music volume low until late in the evening.
Since taking over the tavern 13 years ago, Koepsel added four large-screen plasma TVs and a menu with wings, chicken fingers, eggplant strips, mozzarella marinara, “poppers" and nachos.
Ray and Dot's caters to sports fans, too.
“We have a lot of specials during sporting events, like Packers games,” says Koepsel. "The customers like that."
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.