St. Patrick's Day started early at McBob's Pub & Grill, 4919 W. North Ave., Tuesday morning. It also started without great fanfare.
Moments after the doors opened at 8 a.m. at this West Side favorite, a couple dozen people were already at the free Irish breakfast buffet, which lasts until 10 a.m. and included scrambled eggs, soda bread and Irish stew.
A plate of this hearty fare certainly made good company with perhaps the earliest Guinness I've ever had (beating the previous record, set in England, by a couple hours).
By 8:20, the bar population had already nearly doubled.
But because this isn't Marquette, Water Street or North Avenue, the crowd at McBob's skews older and this morning consisted of 30-, 40- and 50-somethings adorned with everything from green trousers to green Mardi Gras beads. Most, however, kept it simple with a green shirt or hat.
"We just opened and already it's crazy in here," said a bartender named Taylor, who was so busy serving customers he couldn't stand still long enough to give me his last name.
While the bartenders and the cooks back in the kitchen who were refilling the buffet trays had an active morning, the crowd was having a mellow good time to a soundtrack of Irish music.
The bar stools were full by 8:15 and the tables in the small corner pub (not actually situated on a corner, however) were filling fast with small groups engaged in quiet conversation.
If rowdiness wasn't on tap, good times certainly were and everyone wore a smile. Some sported green beer mustaches.
One couple was happy to let me photograph its pitcher of green beer, but was leery of being photographed or sharing names. They'd just finished work at their third shift jobs -- one of them is a McBob's regular, especially on weekend mornings after he leaves work -- and stopped in to celebrate the wearing of the green.
Most people seemed to think they weren't in for the long haul and I overhead many saying, "I'm just here for one."
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.