By Julie Lawrence Special to Published Mar 29, 2009 at 12:19 PM

Being 100 percent smoke-free certainly has not stunted Sugar Maple's growth. Although still a member of the minority in the Milwaukee bar scene, the Bay View beertopia can breathe easy as it reaches an important milestone in April: its first birthday.

Although the space, which used to be the Sikh Temple, was initially criticized for being a bit too sparse for a neighborhood hangout, it has really grown into its skin and made the bar a laid-back, comfortable place to gather and geek out over hops. The recently added couch section really does wonders.

Co-owner Adrienne Pierluissi has been busy implementing a number of cool community events, including rummage sales book swaps, kids events and a monthly all-women beer tasting.

She's also satisfying our hunger. Starting in April Sugar Maple is serving up homemade soups daily -- one vegetarian and one carnivorous -- with a hunk of fresh bread on the side. The soups are made by Triskele's restaurant.

So if you're up for a little partying, be there to celebrate the close of year one with Sugar Maple on Wednesday, April 1. You'll get $2 off all taps.

Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”