Barhopping with College Dave and friends: May '10
I think I love this place more than any other bar I've written about... and thats not the alcohol talking.
JoAnne Humsik has owned and operated the Cedar Inn since 1989. Her mother Stella owned it from 1962 to 1989. (Related aside: JoAnne's nephew, Mike, is dating my friend, Rachel, from Lulu's).
Stella turned 92 in April and still stops in from time to time. She's a legend here. When Stella first opened, she named the bar "Stella's", but according to JoAnn, "There were too many men coming in to see who this woman-owner Stella was."
It was uncommon for a female to own a bar back then. So, to avoid the hassle, Stella renamed the place Cedar Inn because of the cedar wood on the face of the building (similar to the cedar being used for Balistreri's Bluemound Inn's new patio).
Stella hosted all of her friend's and family's functions here, including a neighborhood Christmas party for the kids where Santa would show up and give each kid a present paid for by Stella herself.
JoAnne got married at St. Veronica's when she was 18, then had her reception here using the bar and both apartments at the same time. They put the wedding cake on the pool table.
Victor, a regular customer, met his wife here. Thirty-four years later, they're still together. He also broke a guy's finger here once during a little scuffle and he was kicked out for a while. To this, day he claims, "It was an accident." Speaking of broken fingers, one time a guy got his finger stuck in the front door. It looked real bad. So Stella cleaned it up, stitched it up, and took out the stitches a couple weeks later.
Guy LaPine, another regular customer, told JoAnne, "When I was younger I'd come here and play pool all night for a dime a game and a dime a beer." He met his wife here, too.
Prices today are a little higher and business is a little slower. But I have to say, this place is immaculately clean, contagiously comfortable, and the people here are too cool to be crapulous. I just love it. By the way, I turn 40 on June 29 and guess where I'm stopping for a brew after dinner? The Cedar Inn. Join me.
5527 W. National Ave.
My fellow scribe "Jumbo" turned me onto this bar/motel and, as turns out, some of my fellow bartender buddies actually have rented rooms here when they were having some problems at home or running a little low on their luck overall. There are 45 rooms (with bathrooms) for rent here -- and they aren't expensive.
Julius Caesar never stayed here. Five Card Studs frontman Caesar Palace never sang here. But, former Brewers manager Harvey Kuenn did own this place while also leading "Harvey's Wallbangers" to the 1982 World Series. Of course, back then Don Money owned The Chapter 5 and Gorman Thomas and Pete Vuckovich owned Stormin' & Vuke's.
Harvey Kuenn's father-in-law actually built this place in 1968, then passed it to Harvey and his wife, Audrey. The bar passed to their son, Harvey Jr.(now a scout for the Brewers) and today's pleasantly proud proprietor is Gary Janocik, who took over in 2000.
Before buying this place, Gary worked at Quad/Graphics. He is also a carpenter and an electrician and knowing those trades sure help when you are part of a property management team. He owns other real estate, including a bar in West Allis and a restaurant in the Lake Country area.
Gary told me he initially bought this building as an investment, a rental property. But it also came with a bar and I can tell he sure finds humor in owning the bar here.
"It's hilarious and you've gotta have the right attitude," he says. "The best time was when the steel workers from Miller Park stayed here... great guys, spent money over the bar and they were very respectful of the property."
I like the bar here. Its a very chill place, and from my few experiences, I can honestly say that the staff and customer base is very nice. As a matter of fact, the next time you go to a Brewers game, feel a piece of real Brewers history and have a pre-game brew at Cesar's. Then, if you don't want to pay the stadium parking fee, just cut through the VA and take a nice walk down the hill to Miller Park. It's less than a mile away. Just don't expect them to win at home.
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Great article. My list of places to visit keeps geting longer with available nights getting shorter. I will put a visit to Cedar at the top of my wish list based on yours and Peaches rave reviews. Thanks
It was an honor celebrating (the day after) my birthday with College and the rest of the merry little elves. Rails & Cedar Inn were game-changing establishments. Places like these are why I will never leave Milwaukee. I weep for those who live in lesser cities that don't have such corner taverns who while away their nights, cocktailing at Chili's - maybe catching a night cap at Applebee's. Though this summer's intentions moreso keep me out of all these wonderful rooms full of covered-up mirrors - Summer 2010: Grillin' & Chillin' w/ Action Dan -, I look forward to next month's hop and the forthcoming bocce/golf events. Just like I said before the crib tourney, Dave: go ahead and pre-engrave that trophy with my name. I'm gonna go Umberto Granaglia on all your asses. Have a safe and joyous Memorial Day weekend, all. Pour one out for the fallen soldiers. Action Dan
I like the Inn idea, once again great writing! Cant wait for the golf outing! Happy birthday Dan!
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