Jack Fennimore
Now Serving

Brady Street Won’t Get Camp Bar

Owner backs off from plan to put bar in old hardware store building. So what will take its place?

By - Sep 8th, 2015 05:40 pm
Brady Street Hardware. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Brady Street Hardware. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

When my colleague Jeramey Jannene reported on Dominion Properties’s different projects, including the acquisition of the building at 1234 E. Brady Street formerly owned by the now closed Brady Street Hardware, he said that Dominion’s Mike O’Connor was “seeking a restaurant tenant for the first floor.” The very next day, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel confirmed that O’Connor had plans to set up Camp Bar, a neighborhood tavern successful in its locations on 6600 W North Ave. in Wauwatosa and 4044 N Oakland Ave. in Shorewood.

But the plan to add another bar to Brady Street caused a huge backlash from the community; O’Connor told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Brady Street business owners and residents “basically expressed it would happen over their dead bodies.” The Brady Street Area Association along with Alderman Nik Kovac opposed the plan, saying Brady Street already has plenty of bars and they wanted to use the space for daytime retail.

Paul Hackbarth, owner of Camp Bar, later clarified the kerfuffle in a tweet sent to Jeff Sherman of OnMilwaukee. He said that he was approached by Dominion and asked if they would like to set up “camp” on Brady Street. He thought it would be a good opportunity to research the market, so he accepted Dominion’s offer. But due to the opposition, he’s reconsidered.

“Obviously Brady St. isn’t ready for more Bar/Restaurants,” said Hackbarth. “In order to keep the peace… we decided not to pursue the project after the BID reported back the feelings of the neighborhood and local business. If Brady St. ever decides it is ready for Camp we will obviously reconsider.”

Does Brady Street need another bar? If not, what kind of business should move into the space? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


Back in March we reported that a new and cutely-named tiki bar, Wauwatiki, was coming to Wauwatosa. OnMilwaukee reported last Wednesday that after numerous delays, the Polynesian-themed bar and restaurant located at 6502 W. North Ave. will officially move forward.

The project is headed by a collaboration between Panagiotis (Peter) Panagos, owner of Hotch at 1813 E. Kenilworth St.; James Findlay, former owner of Ugly’s at 1125 N. Old World 3rd St.; and Jason Growel, owner of the Eastsider at 1732 E. North Ave. The project is being partially funded by a $100,000 forgivable loan administered by the Community Development Authority in Wauwatosa. Groundbreaking will commence shortly after the building closes on Sept. 16th. Flux design will be converting the building into its tiki motif, complete with a tiki statue that doubles as a chair.

The menu will feature a mix of authentic Polynesian and American foods, including signature burgers, Caribbean jerk wings, coconut shrimp and plantains. Rum-based drinks as well as beer, wine and cocktails will make up most of the drinks menu. Panagos told OnMilwaukee they are even considering barreling and aging their own rum in house.

“We’re really aiming to stay true to the idea of pub food, but take it a step further,” Panagos told OnMilwaukee. “The idea is that the quality of the food will match the cocktails.”

Corvina Wine Co.

A wine bar in ‘Stallis? Yep, the Corvina Wine Co. is getting ready to expand its wine shop at 6038 W. Lincoln Ave., which already holds wine tastings. Owners and brothers Joe LaSusa and Frank LaSusa will add a wine bar at the back of the building, where their Sicilian great-grandfather used to live, as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. A warm-weather wine garden will also be added.

The shop emphasizes wines from small producers with an emphasis on Italian wines, which the great grandfather would surely approve. The brothers opened in the shop in November 2012 and hope to open the wine bar and wine garden this fall.

Corvina is now open from 1 to 7 p.m. Tuesday to Friday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, but those hours would expand to 11 p.m. or midnight when construction of the wine bar is completed. Cheese and charcuterie plates may also be served.

Story Hill BKC

Story Hill BKC, located on 5100 W. Bluemound Rd., has made some significant changes starting today, including new hours, a new lunch menu, and more drinks. Dan Sidner, co-owner of Black Shoe Hospitality which owns Story Hill BKC as well as Maxie’s Southern Comfort and Blue’s Egg, told OnMilwaukee that he made the changes due to customer demand.

The restaurant will now be open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., with lunch served between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. On Saturdays and Sundays, you can look forward to a brunch from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. respectively. It will be closed Mondays.

Breakfast crepes and shakshouka as well as sandwiches, soups, and salads will adorn the new lunch menu, along with flatbreads with a variety of toppings, said chef and co-owner Joe Muench. An edible happy hour will allow patrons to sample options such as the Story Hill burger, Connie’s chicken salad, chicken meatballs, and more.

A variety of craft tap cocktails, additional tap lines, and more wines have also been added, from classics like the whiskey old fashioned to more adventurous creations like Mother’s Little Helper (cold-brewed Valentine coffee, vodka and chocolate liqueur). A new happy hour will accompany the expanded drink menu and is from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Refuge Smoothie

Refuge Smoothie, one of Milwaukee’s fines proprietor of “deliciously healthy” smoothies, is going to add new menu items of both the smoothie and non-smoothie variety. The new items are being accompanied by the rebranding to Refuge Café, owner Josh Janis told the Milwaukee Business Journal.

In addition to new smoothies, locations will have new breakfast and lunch options, including the “avocado bar,” which fills avocados with sandwich fillings. Most of the ingredients will be organic, fresh, and local.

Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre World

Native Milwaukeeans might not view their favorite foods as weird, but one man’s deep-fried cheese curds is another man’s mealworms, and apparently Milwaukee food is weird enough to catch the attention of former host of Bizarre Foods Andrew Zimmern.

Zimmern traveled to Milwaukee in August for an episode of his show Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre World, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. During his visit, he sampled duck blood soup at Polonez in St. Francis and tripe and tongue tacos at El Rey market.

According to OnMilwaukee, the episode premiered yesterday at 8 p.m. In case you missed it, you can catch it on Sept. 8 at 11 p.m., Sept. 14 at 1:30 p.m., Sept. 21 at 8:30 p.m., Sept. 22 at 11:30 p.m. and Oct. 11 at 11:30 p.m. By then we should all know the episode by heart.

Full Belly Fall Fest

Mark your calendars for Sept. 16, because that’s the day you can travel to Potawatomi Hotel & Casino at 5:30 p.m. to sample the dishes of over 20 different Milwaukee restaurants at the Full Belly Fall Fest. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the event benefits hunger-relief charity Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin. The event will also feature ice sculpting, a silent auction and a people’s choice award.

Tickets are $35 at the door, but you can get them for $30 if you order in advance on the event’s website.

Suits + Tables

Private restaurant owners are getting a new ally from our friends in Illinois. Suits + Tables, a year-old Chicago startup that deals with corporate booking services, is expanding to Milwaukee.

Suits + Tables allows companies to send free proposals to reserve private tables and event spaces while it takes a cut of the venues’ final payment. It is also developing a software program to streamline the process.

Director of venue relations Kathy Pirogova told the Milwaukee Business Journal that the company has already partnered with 22 different local venues. Milwaukee’s Bartolotta Restaurant Group, Hotel Metro, Casablanca, Braise, Grain Exchange and more have already signed up with the service. The startup also has set its sights set on Indianapolis.

Now Closing: The Chancery

The Chancery on 4624 S. 27th St. closed on Sept. 5 after 33 years of business. According to OnMilwaukee, The DeRosa Corporation, the owners and operators of all Chancery locations as well as its three Jose’s Blue Sombrero restaurants and Parkside 23 in Brookfield, will be selling the building in order to “put these assets back into the business for ongoing and future development opportunities,” they said in a news release.

The company is also selling its Chancery at 207 Gas Light Dr. in Racine. It will be sold to Graves Hospitality Corporation of Minneapolis, owner of the Harbourwalk Hotel Racine. “The business has become more seasonal at this location and the hotel will be able to utilize the property more effectively with its conference business,” said The DeRosa Corporation owner, chairman and CEO Joe DeRosa.

“In the meantime, we invite our customers to visit us at one of our other eight locations,” he added.

Four other Chancery locations remain open in this metro area: 7615 W State St., Wauwatosa; Mequon Pavilions, 11046 N Port Washington Rd, Mequon; 2100 East Moorland Boulevard, Waukesha and 11900 108th St., Pleasant Prairie. A location on Downer Ave., Milwaukee, closed in 2007.

Now Closing: Refuge Smoothie

The new change in the menu and rebranding comes with the closing of Refuge Smoothie’s location at 2328 N. Farwell Ave. Plenty of other locations remain open, however, including the restaurant’s recent expansions into the BMO Harris Bradley Center and Milwaukee Athletic Club. And word on the street is that the company is in talks of getting a location near the UW-Milwaukee campus.

14 thoughts on “Now Serving: Brady Street Won’t Get Camp Bar”

  1. Victor says:

    So what will go here? Brady street isn’t a huge retail area, it’s more night life. You need to make a lot of cash to cover rent and the high taxes. The only thing that can make that kind of money in that area are taverns.

  2. KatyC says:

    I understand the issue with rents, and I certainly want the current owners to earn what they are entitled to and enjoy a good retirement, however, this area desperately needs a good hardware. It was worth the wait to us to order what we needed and wait for it to come in– in order to keep a local hardware here and active. With the loss of ACE in Haymarket in conjunction with the closing of Brady this summer there is no walkable hardware for those of us living in this part of the city and that does not make a livable city. Box stores and Amazon don’t offer what a good hardware with knowledgeable people in your own neighborhood can offer. Every time one of these stores closes knowledge and value to the community is lost. Walkability isn’t just about restaurants, it means every aspect of what your household requires and a hardware is high on the list.

  3. Mike C. says:

    Loss of ACE will hurt. I agree with decision to not add another bar. Brady Street already has enough food and drinking establishments.
    Hopefully another retail establishment or perhaps fitness facility will move in?

  4. Sam says:

    Brady Street has plenty of bars on and in the immediate vicinity of it (thankfully, the off street ones are not generally known by the weekend crowd).

    A restaurant might work, but it will have to bring something unique to the area to be successfull considering all the good places there.

    Daytime retail would work less so, I can’t imagine anything doing too well considering foot traffic levels (that aren’t going to a bar/restaurant) and parking. If someone has an economic argument for that in the neighborhood other than just desire, I’m all ears.

  5. Will says:

    Daytime retail on Brady Street? They should call the retail store “the Money Pit”. If whatever goes in the vacant space doesn’t sell food and/or beer I hope they sign a short lease. The perfect thing to put there would be a weed dispensary but ah well, maybe in a few years.

  6. stephen thiel says:

    This is a textbook example of “crony capitalism” at its best. Existing Brady Street bar and restaurant businesses, in order to protect their perceived interests, pressure (or collude) with Alderman Kovac to kill Dominion’s project with the incoherent logic of there being “too many bars”. Dominion Properties has a stellar track record of quality work and is being denied even the basic sham of a fair and open denial process. The almost-opened-but-just didn’t-make-it Dollar General store at King and North was bludgeoned and killed by much the same methods. “Politics ain’t beanbag” wrote Finley Peter Dunne, and nowhere is it more evident then at 1234 E Brady Street. My heart goes out to Dominion, but “that’s life” wrote Dean Kay.

  7. Will says:


    Welcome to Milwaukee. An absolutely awful place to try to start a business or build something

  8. Will says:

    Milwaukee is the 65 year old uncle who brags to all his friends about the $5 khakis he bought from Kohls in 1985 even though they dont fit and look terrible and everyone just shakes their heads at him

  9. Tim says:

    Wow, it’s like you all don’t realize that these same exact issues pops up in every urban business district around the country. Maybe google some 5 year-old articles on it from NYC, Denver or Seattle to figure out how they deal with the tendency of an urban shopping district to become all restaurants & bars.

    No, that couldn’t be… it must be because Milwaukee is *insert talk radio cliche*.

  10. Nico says:

    There were buyers prepared to take over the hardware store, but they couldn’t get a loan from a bank at an interest rate that would make the plan workable. Perhaps a kickstarter campaign would have worked.

  11. Mike says:

    Crony Capitalism is alive and well in Wauwatosa so a building can be purchased over assessed value (hence the forgivable loan) and other businesses ready to buy the building weren’t aware this type of welfare existed.

  12. M says:

    These Brady businesses are worrying about one modest-sized bar but no one’s said a peep about the three-story Bucks bar mall that could have nearly 20 times the square footage of taverns just blocks away (plus a mammoth courtyard). All of Greater Downtown functions as one market, so Brady would be affected too.

    So they might as well fight over-saturation on a micro scale since the Big Bucks mall will siphon biz from everyone–but maybe only for a while till the mall becomes the “out” place–that taxpayers paid big bucks for.

    North Ave. has a pretty good balance of uses. But even there they can’t find retail for the East Library. There’s empty retail everywhere downtown, including in the desirable neighborhoods. Retail has declined with our new online-shopping world. Services and hospitality are more viable. But too much “entertainment” makes neighborhoods unlivable for people who are not serious party people. All in moderation…

  13. Just me says:

    I live on the southside which, also, is full of empty Ma n Pa sized retail stores. Milwaukee sucks if you want to be a small business owner. Yes, it is sort of a shame that the only proposals for the space have been bars or restaurants. But if the neighborhood association is going to be so stubborn, what’s the alternative? The owners can’t keep the doors open. So what’s the alternative? They don’t sell the building but leave it shuttered? Isn’t it better to have something in there that fits the neighborhood? And sorry, Kovac, but that end of Brady street IS entertainment – all the retail stores are on the other end of Brady up the hill. It’s kind of odd to have one retail store on a street full of bars and restaurants.

  14. Sean says:

    Madison is going through the exact same growing pains on State Street.
    Mayor Soglin just vetoed a liquor license for a restaurant, saying that State Street has too many bars and restaurants and not enough retail.
    Downtown retail is a tough sell all over the country, not just in Milwaukee. Hopefully something successful will find a home in that space.

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