In order to be a successful bar owner, you have to talk to your customers. In order to be a really successful bar owner, it helps to listen.
That is what R.J. "Slim" McGinn did, and it prompted him to open Slim McGinn's West at 14735 W. Lisbon Ave. in Brookfield.
While tending to a successful operation at 338 S. 1st St., McGinn talked to several West Side residents who longed for a similar establishment in their neighborhoods.
In March, McGinn opened Slim's West in a building that formerly housed the Meadow Inn.
"This really sprung from people at the Downtown location saying, ‘Boy, we wish we had something like that on our side of town,'" McGinn said.
"For the people in Brookfield and New Berlin, there really aren't a lot of choices out that way. They can do fine dining at a place like Mr. B's, but a lot of people told me they were looking for something a little more casual -- a place where they could get a good burger and a fish fry and watch a game."
Upon taking over, McGinn did some remodeling at the Lisbon location and plans to do more.
"We cleaned it up and made it brighter," he said. "When we got there, I thought it was too dark and ‘supper-clubby.' We cleaned it up and I kind of opened things up a little. It's brighter now. Next, we'll remodel the bathrooms."
Though the Brookfield building is vastly different from the location near Downtown, McGinn hopes that the ambience and the menu will be similar.
"Downtown, we are in an old Pabst Brewery building and we have the gorgeous old back bar," he said. "The atmosphere is a bit different, but the menus are similar.
"It's basically the same concept -- an Irish sports bar. I put a lot of money into flat screen TVs so people can watch games. I want to be sure that they can see every game.
"Last Thursday, the Jets game was on the NFL Network and a lot of places didn't have the NFL package so they didn't get the game. It worked out well for us. We were jam-packed because everybody wanted to see (Brett) Favre."
McGinn expects another big night when the Packers play the Saints on "Monday Night Football."
"We already do a special where we have 30-cent wings and $2 burgers on Mondays," he said. "That's been a big draw for us."
McGinn has a smoking area with bar-height tables and a non-smoking area with lower tables "for families who want to come and get a fish fry."
McGinn said things are "going well" at the new location and likes the way he's been able to streamline his ordering process.
"Having another location helps," he said. "We had a busy lunch Downtown and now I'm driving out (west) to grab some perch from one to take to the other."
Host of “The Drew Olson Show,” which airs 1-3 p.m. weekdays on The Big 902. Sidekick on “The Mike Heller Show,” airing weekdays on The Big 920 and a statewide network including stations in Madison, Appleton and Wausau. Co-author of Bill Schroeder’s “If These Walls Could Talk: Milwaukee Brewers” on Triumph Books. Co-host of “Big 12 Sports Saturday,” which airs Saturdays during football season on WISN-12. Former senior editor at OnMilwaukee.com. Former reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.