Michael Horne
Bar Exam

Bremen Cafe’s Roots Go Back to 1895

Building began as bar in 1895 and much is still original in popular Riverwest bar.

By - Jan 3rd, 2017 03:22 pm

Building began as bar in 1895 and much is still original in popular Riverwest bar. Back to the full article.

Photos - Page 2

9 thoughts on “Bar Exam: Bremen Cafe’s Roots Go Back to 1895”

  1. Lolly Rzezotarski says:

    Michael Horne’s article on the Bremen Cafe is formidable–well researched, well written. Thank you.

  2. RonF says:

    My dad owned a tavern in Fond du Lac in the 1940s-50s. Sunday morning before, during and after church was his busy times, taking only second fiddle to Friday afternoons when he cashed a lot of paychecks. Sunday socializing was a German thing.

    Dad’s tavern also had a separate entrance for women with a backroom having a few booths, a restroom, and a pass-through counter to order drinks so as to not go into the main bar area.

  3. Sam says:

    Fun place when a band is playing. Thanks for the history lesson.

  4. Kent Mueller says:

    It was St Michael’s Waiting Room in the mid ’80s, a white Sufi, no-smoking coffee-house at a time when cigarettes and coffee were synonymous. That closed in 1987 and Metropolitan Gallery would occupy it for the next three years, moving to S. 5th St. in 1989 (closing in ’93). Metropolitan was run by Jim Pattison, Ellen Straw, my future wife Linda Matschull & I (plus Linda’s folks Herb & Shirley). We held our wedding reception there in ’88. Metropolitan had shows there by Prophet Blackmon and many local artists, and some works by Eugene Von Breuchenhein. We held events there, including two solo concerts by folkie Peter Stampfel and notably “8/8/88: Goal Zero Reads for a Week”. Goal Zero Poetry Group was an early spoken word (pre-Poetry Slam days) group that Jim Pattison and I were members of (if anyone is interested http://my.execpc.com/~artkm/gzphistory.html ), and ‘8/8/88″ lasted the week leading to that date. It was built around the fact that Polish George stored a huge amount of used books in the basement there, having run used bookstores on and off since the Beat Generation days. So GZ read random books to inspire poetry, wrote and read on the spot for whatever audience showed up — a “working week” culminating on the day of the decade. So many memories of this address.

  5. Kent Mueller–I read your article with great interest. Thanks for the sidebar on Polish GEORGE Rzezotarski and our Dancing Bear. After St. Michael’s Waiting Room closed, those books stayed under tarps on our front porch until our friend Gary Gresl (managing the Milwaukee Antique Center in the Ward) rented us space there. Lolly Rz

  6. Kent Mueller–Thanks for the memory of my husband Polish GEORGE Rzezotarski. Indeed, a couple thousand books from the Dancing Bear were ensconced there. When St. Michael’s Waiting Room closed, we had only a couple days to move them out. They resided under tarps on our front porch until we relocated in the Milwaukee Antique Center down in the Ward at 341 North Milwaukee Street.

  7. Dick Yahr says:

    Oh Yes! St. Michael’s Waiting Room…. run by Ron Retzlaff and Elizabeth Goldberg….a spiritual meeting place…..8 person meditations in the back room on Tuesday nights (Octacals) done for the sake of world conscious upliftments and to benefit of all sentient beings. Are there still living quarters upstairs? Good for those who are employed on 2nd shift jobs….. When I now look for roommates I seek people who read, meditate , or do creative writing and need a quiet place……now, there is so much LIFE here….another kind of joy…..and still . a place endowed with a history of indubitable social CHARISMA.

  8. Bill Sell says:

    Your patron saint, Michael. What a fabulous name for this “waiting” room.

  9. Virginia Small says:

    Thanks Michael Horne, for telling the succession of remarkable stories of another “unremarkable” building, and for others embellishing those tales.

    Having lived one block away on Wright Street in the early-mid ’70s in a huge second-four flat (with attic rooms) with students and others, I can vouch that this was true:

    “It was pretty much just old people and young folks those days, as the child-bearing families headed out to the suburbs, leaving a number of flats — some nice ones — ready to rent for low rates, provided you weren’t too fussy about the maintenance or the neighbors.”

    One notable exception was a young family on the corner of Wright and Bremen in what had been a commercial storefront (the other three corners were bars, if memory serves). The popular and spirited midwife Ginny Felch and her artist husband lived there with their two very-young offspring. A house or two away was white-haired Josephine who tended a prolific vegetable garden and happily befriended us newcomers and shared her harvest.

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