By Eric Paulsen Special to Published Feb 10, 2005 at 5:44 AM Photography: Eron Laber of Front Room Photography

{image1} Up all night? Prefer to sleep in the afternoon? Work third shift, perhaps? Most of the time, bars open at 10 a.m. or after. But what happens if you just have to party at the break of dawn?

Well, there are some bars in the area that open early and will be happy to serve you.

We're all familiar with the rule about closing at 2 a.m. or 2:30 a.m. on weekends, but what about rules for opening time?

The only real regulation on bar hours in Milwaukee -- with some laws also guided by the state -- stipulates that any bar has free rein to be open from 6 a.m. until 2 a.m. every day of the week. (It's defined in the city charter under regulation 90-15, if anyone should ask.)

Milwaukee's tradition of "early opener" bars dates back to when factories regularly scheduled three shifts per day. You had the day shift, the evening shift and the night shift, also known as "third shift." While the area's manufacturing prowess declined, mirroring that of the United States, so did the number of 'round-the-clock shifts at many Milwaukee companies. Few remain, and many that do are concentrated on the South and near West Sides of town.

So, whether you end work at the crack of dawn, or simply like to get up and hoist one early, here are some options:

Club Bagdad
3776 E. Layton Ave.
(414) 747-9122
Cudahy's tradition of third-shifters, from local plants like Ladish and Patrick Cudahy, meant many "early riser" bars used to line the streets. While fewer remain in the area, Club Bagdad is one of them, opening at 6 a.m. every morning. Pitchers are $5, and you can watch the sun rise over Lake Michigan just a few blocks to the east.

Kip's Inn
837 S. 108th St. (Highway 100)
(414) 258-8650
Third shift workers in West Allis, especially from the sizeable Quad/Graphics facility just up the street, can head to Kip's as early as 7 a.m. on weekdays. Kip's Inn offers $5.50 pitchers on domestic beer -- Leinie's products excluded -- from 7 to 9 a.m., along with pool and darts. Most days prior to major holidays feature events like the turkey bowl before Thanksgiving. P.J.'s
3000 W. Lincoln Ave.
(414) 643-8256
Opening at 6 a.m., seven days a week, P.J.'s offers some morning specials, including mini-pitchers of tap beer for $2.50 until 2 p.m.

Sussex Place Sports Bar
N64 W22480 Main St., Sussex
(262) 820-3500
With the Quad/Graphics plant, Sharp Packaging and a Tombstone Pizza facility operating at all hours nearby, Sussex Place pours the after-work beverages for the local crowd starting at 6 a.m., seven days a week.

Tom's Down Under
2689 S. 13th St.
(414) 383-8667
Smack dab in the middle of the South Side, Tom's Down Under opens at 6 a.m., seven days a week.

Winner's Circle
3800 W. Burnham St.
(414) 643-8600
Just a few blocks east of Miller Park Way, the Winner's Circle sets up shop at 6 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 7 a.m. on Sunday. It boasts quite a crowd most mornings; numerous facilities in the area operate 24 hours a day.

438 S. 2nd St.
(414) 271-9130
With Allen-Bradley -- now Rockwell Automation -- up the street and many other manufacturing facilities nearby, Walkers' Point has plenty of clientele for early mornings. Zad's opens at 6 a.m., seven days a week, 365 days a year. Zad's sweetens the pot for crack-of-dawn patrons by taking a quarter off all drinks until noon.

Know of more early openers? Let us know in the talkback section.

Eric Paulsen Special to
Eric Paulsen is a Milwaukee native but also grew up in Chicago, Detroit and Dallas, which means he’s never lived in a decent climate. Paulsen works as the Communications Officer for the Greater Milwaukee Committee, serves as a writer and contributor for commercials and a national TV show and pops up on 103.7 Kiss FM on weekends, doing his share of overplaying Top 40 hits. Previously, he was a business partner and director in a start-up online research company that began in 1998 and reached the Inc. 500 list by 2005. He was an early contributing writer for, dating back to 1999. He got his MBA from UW-Milwaukee in 2007 and also holds a BS in Consumer Science (a degree he can’t explain, either) from UW-Madison and thus cheers on the Badgers with reckless abandon. Eric is a graduate of the Future Milwaukee Leadership Program and participates in many community-minded events and initiatives, invited or not. When he’s not working, Paulsen enjoys running, road trips and practicing for a future career as a beer connoisseur.