While great-tasting food and drink is the ultimate goal of any potential bar or restaurant owner, it's becoming obvious that to be successful in the competitive service industry these days, sometimes it takes a little more.
For William Deuberry, co-owner of the East Side's new Yield Café, creating an intriguing atmosphere for his bar/restaurant was a priority. Yield, located at 1932 E. Kenilworth Ave., is filling the year-long vacancy of the space that last housed the Dragon Lounge.
In accordance with their mission, "merging sound and taste," Deuberry and his two partners hope to establish their bar as the place people can consistently rely on to be playing good music. After managing McGillycuddy's for 11 years, Deuberry says he has had it with the soulless "dance and party music" most Water Street bars and clubs pump through the speakers.
"The only thing that got me through most nights (at McGillycuddy's) was when I could DJ from behind the bar," he says. "People would come in there wanting to hear 'Baby Got Back,' and I'd be like, 'Well, I've got The Stone Roses.'"
Deuberry says that the goal of this bar, however, is not about music elitism, but more to provide a comfortable sanctuary for an incredibly broad expanse of music.
"Yes, we are going to play stuff we enjoy, but we're not limiting ourselves to a single genre or anything. Our play lists are very diverse." The tunes, he says, will vary between jazz, indie rock, electronica, and classic R&B. "Our intention is that people will not only enjoy hearing familiar music but also become interested in learning about new music as well."
And the décor acts as a fun visual reinforcement of their music-friendly environment. The three owners have each chosen two colorful album covers to blow up and mount on foamcore. For opening day, scheduled for June 22, the walls of the 3,300 sq. foot split level space will feature album art by Sleater-Kinney, The White Stripes, Oasis, John Coltrane, Underworld and Weezer. The album art will change every couple of months.
Deuberry would like to have the café aspect of the establishment running by the end of July. As the former co-owner of The Social, Deuberry gained the experience of starting a bar and restaurant from scratch, and has similar ideas for Yield.
Comparable to places like the Hi Hat Lounge, the menu will be primarily eclectic small-dish dining, with the intention of people ordering a few things and sharing. "We really like the feel and energy of Brady Street, and hope to attract a similar demographic to this area," he says. Once the food starts, the whole establishment will open at 11 a.m. Until then, the bar opens at 4 p.m.
Neighboring bar The Vox welcomes Yield and is excited about the attention the new addition could attract to the area. With the enormous Kenilworth Building in the midst of its makeover to include student housing, classrooms, retail space and parking facilities, the area has the ingredients to become a potential hot spot.
Deuberry hopes that the atmosphere, staff and clientele will encourage engaging conversation, and mentions that there will be a stock of dictionaries, almanacs and maps on hand to settle any disputes that might arise. "We want to talk about music and culture. We want to keep it lively, but also we'd also like to avoid bar fights."
A few things that might aid in that regard are the sign with the word "politics" slashed out and tabletops covered with games like cribbage, backgammon and chess to keep it fun.
"I've been involved in so many projects that if this wasn't something that I could do creatively, I just didn't see the point."
OnMilwaukee.com 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 OnMilwaukee.com 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.”