Last November, Dan Fitzgibbons closed Fitzgibbons Pub, 1127 N. Water St., after operating it for 15 years.
At the time, he said he was losing money for the past four years and couldn’t pay the rent anymore. The bar is now the home of Pourman’s.
"I have worked and owned bars my entire adult life," Fitzgibbons said during a 2012 interview for an OnMilwaukee.com article. "I'm not sure what I'll do next."
It didn’t take Fitzgibbons long to figure it out. In March of 2013 he leased another Water Street space, this one a few blocks to the north of his old bar at 1634 N. Water St.
"I got tired of people saying, ‘Fitzie where is the new joint going to be?’ I would say, ‘you know the curve that goes from Water Street to Brady, between Shorewest and the scooter place?’ and they would say, ‘oh yeah, that place?’ and I’d say, ‘yeah, that place. The Curve!’"
After months of major renovations, Fitzgibbons quietly opened The Curve earlier this week. The building formerly housed O’Brady’s and before that, Butch’s Big Mouth Frog.
At one point, he says, the plan was to raze the building, which was a speakeasy many years ago, and build condos on the land. However, that deal fell through and Fitzgibbons is glad that it did.
"There are not a lot of buildings around like this. It’s old. I’m trying to give it some TLC," he says. "It has so much character, history and charm."
When the health department inspector originally walked through the space he asked Fitzgibbons if he had already signed the lease because the place was in such disrepair.
"When he came back to sign off, he looked around and said to me, ‘wow, you’ve done an amazing job,’" he says. "But it’s not just me, it’s everyone."
Currently, the interior is in much better shape than the exterior. Although Fitzgibbons says he in the process of painting and improving the facade he had to stop for a few days due to inclement weather.
"I’m painting it red, white and blue so if the city gives me crap I’m going to say, ‘What? you don’t like the colors of the flag?’" he says.
He will also soon hang a large, hand-painted sign.
The interior was completely repainted in bright colors from bright blue to orange to green and the split-level space creates an interesting and functional layout.
The Curve sports a pool table, Golden Tee game, Internet dartboard and jukebox and five flat screen televisions.
"This is a great place to watch Packers, Marquette, Bucks or the Brewers," says Fitzgibbons.
There’s also a new, C-shaped wooden bar.
"There’s a curve in the bar and a curve in the street," says Fitzgibbons. "And I’m still working on a lot of details in here."
The Curve offers a couple of beers on tap, including one made by Sprecher especially for the bar, but the majority are in bottles with a focus on Wisconsin-brewed beers including Lakefront, Sprecher, Point and more.
Originally, Fitzgibbons thought about serving food at The Curve. There was a grill in the space, but it would have taken entirely too much money to get the kitchen area up to code and so he dropped the concept.
Even though Fitzgibbons worked with food in the past at places like The Harp and the the now-defunct Jakester’s he says he’s not really a restauranteur anyway.
"I'm more of a tavern guy," he says.
At his former pub, Fitzgibbons had "The International Wall Of Snacks" and says he might to do something similar at The Curve.
Fitzgibbons, who grew up in Whitefish Bay and still lives there today, worked at the Y-Not II before he opened Fitzgibbons in 1997. He says Y-Not owner Tony DePalma once gave him a valuable piece of advice about bar ownership.
"He said, ‘You’ll never be done. You’re always going to find something that needs to be changed or fixed,’" Fitzgibbons says.
Ideally, he would like to see The Curve become a popular, no-frills neighborhood tavern.
"This is a comfortable place with lots of parking and it’s easy for people in the neighborhood to walk here," he says.
Fitzgibbons plans to have a formal grand opening later this month.
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.