Tony Wojtecki, co-owner of The Bottle, 1753 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., is pretty certain that prior to a month ago, his bar had the worst bathrooms in the city.
"The absolute worst," says Wojtecki, who's owned the bar for 16 years with co-owned Jennifer Heinen.
When forced to shutdown due to COVID-19, Wojtecki had a list of projects he wanted to tackle, but the abominable bathrooms were at the very top. Thus, he gutted both the men's and the women's room and replaced the toilets, stalls, vanities, sinks and countertops with new, upgraded versions of what had been there. He also replaced the fluorescent lighting with softer light sources.
He did, however, keep a few things in the restrooms for the sake of history.
"I left the urinals. Apparently, they are among the oldest, if not the oldest, urinals in the city," says Wojtecki, who even had a plaque made to honor the antiquated receptacles.
After removing the old wall coverings, Wojtecki also found a couple of historical gems behind the drywall. In the men's room, he found a man's name and the date January 9, 1934 carved into the original plaster, so he kept it exposed. In the women's room, he found a mural of a woman from when the bar was the goth bar, The Sanctuary, until the late 1990s.
"I had to keep it," says Wojtecki. "It's part of the bar's past."
Aside from getting brand new bathrooms, The Bottle also has new flooring, a new bar face (with technology ports), a repaired ceiling and – thanks to the removal of a massive, broken, ancient air conditioning unit – more space for social distancing and darts.
The Bottle will celebrate its 16th anniversary in July and Wojtecki says the mandatory shutdown allowed him the time to complete projects he wasn't even able to begin during the past decade a half.
"It was definitely a silver lining," he says.
Should Wojtecki celebrate his hard work and the reopening of his bar, there's plenty of space for safe hanging out. The Bottle has four large areas indoors plus outdoor seating. And any celebration at The Bottle will most likely include Malort, a controversial liquer that people either seem to love or hate.
"We've always sold a lot of Malort here," says Wojtecki. "Malort sponsored our 1oth anniversary. It's just one of the many signs that makes this place unique."
Molly Snyder grew up on Milwaukee's East Side and today, she lives in the Walker's Point neighborhood with her partner and two sons.
As a full time senior writer, editorial manager and self-described experience junkie, Molly has written thousands of articles about Milwaukee (and a few about New Orleans, Detroit, Indianapolis, Boston and various vacation spots in Wisconsin) that range in subject from where to get the best cup of coffee to an in-depth profile on the survivors of the iconic Norman apartment building that burned down in the '90s.
She also once got a colonic just to report on it, but that's enough on that.
Always told she had a "radio voice," Molly found herself as a regular contributor on FM102, 97WMYX and 1130WISN with her childhood radio favorite, Gene Mueller.
Molly's poetry, essays and articles appeared in many publications including USA Today, The Writer, The Sun Magazine and more. She has a collection of poetry, "Topless," and is slowly writing a memoir.
In 2009, Molly won a Milwaukee Press Club Award. She served as the Narrator / writer-in-residence at the Pfister Hotel from 2013-2014. She is also a story slam-winning storyteller who has performed with The Moth, Ex Fabula and Risk!
When she's not writing, interviewing or mom-ing, Molly teaches tarot card classes, gardens, sits in bars drinking Miller products and dreams of being in a punk band again.