By Andy Tarnoff Publisher Published Apr 03, 2008 at 10:04 AM

I'd imagine that Wednesday evening isn't the night most Milwaukeeans hit the bars, even in thirsty Bay View. But if I didn't know better, I would've thought last night was a Saturday at the grand opening of Sugar Maple, 441 E. Lincoln Ave.

I dropped in last night after bowling, and despite the fact that the sign was still unlit, I recognized tons of people at the impressively crowded bar's first night. I knew at least 50 percent of the people there by face, and I think I talked to a dozen people I knew by name -- who weren't even there together.

Think about that. More than 12 people at a bar on a Wednesday night, not connected, that you know well enough to strike up a conversation. That strikes me as pretty cool. From business owners to bar flies, from bartenders to musicians, I felt like Bay View came out in force to support Bruno Johnson's new endeavor.

I also ran into Mike Sherwood, the guy who designed the bar. He was really beaming, and he had every right to be, since his work was very impressive. I thought the lighting was a little bright, and while the non-smoking policy was great, it still smelled like paint -- but considering I was in the bar two weeks ago to interview Bruno, the place has come a long way very quickly. It will surely find its legs in months to come.

Opening a new bar with 60 taps of microbrew, then filling it with tons of neighbors on its first night is an impressive feat. Congratulations, Bruno. I look forward to dropping in again soon.

Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.

Before launching in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.

Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.