Say Goodbye to Rosie’s on Water

After 19 years with same owner, downtown bar to be sold, pending city approval.

By - Jul 13th, 2018 11:45 am
Rosie's on Water. Photo by Brett Kihlmire,

Rosie’s on Water. Photo by Brett Kihlmire.

It could be closing time for the long-time Water Street staple, Rosie’s on Water (1111 N. Water St.), pending approval by the Common Council’s Licenses Committee later this month.

Current owners Jim Pack and Darrell Sanderson hope to sell the space to Nathan Showers, owner of Rogue’s Gallery (134 E. Juneau Ave.). Pack and Sanderson have run Rosie’s for 19, going on 20, years. Before Pack and Sanderson bought the bar and it became a birthday favorite for downtown patrons, the bar operated as Rosie’s Water Works for 16 years.

“We really didn’t want to sell it,” said Pack. “Honestly, it seems very surreal to me to be selling the bar after so long.”

Married with two kids, Pack’s reason for selling is rooted in family. He acknowledged the difficulties of balancing work and home life, especially since the bar is busiest on the weekends. “The long hours are impossible to deal with,” said Pack. “I can’t be as hands on as I like to be.” 

After agreeing to sell about six months ago, the partners listed the space “out of curiosity.” Showers made an offer about three months ago, and the three have been negotiating ever since.

“[Showers] runs Rogue’s really well, so I thought he would be a good fit,” said Pack. “I was comfortable passing the baton.”

According to a tavern license application filed with the city, Showers plans to open a bar called Eleven Eleven Dive. The establishment would be open six to seven days a week, with a proposed opening on Aug. 20. Proposed hours of operation are 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday to Thursday, 4 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. Friday and 12 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. Saturday.

Moving forward with the planned changes ultimately comes down to the city’s approval. Showers says he does not plan on giving any details until it is “100 percent a done deal.” Pack also emphasized that he and Sanderson are grateful to the city and hope that the plans will be approved. Looking to the future, Pack said he might have to take a month or two to let it all sink in.

“I’ve laid awake at night thinking about my baby,” said Pack. “It’s like cutting off my arm.”

Ultimately, Pack believes that selling the bar is for the best, and hopes that the tradition of Rosie’s continue’s to grow under Shower’s leadership.

“We wish Nate the best for the future, whatever he decides to do,” said Pack. “If he decides to keep it Rosie’s, or not, I hope it’s around for another 36 years.”

If approved, Eleven Eleven Dive would be the second new establishment in the vicinity. Pizano’s Pizza and Pasta also has plans to open this summer in the corner space of MSOE’s Grohmann Tower (1150 N. Water St.)

Rosie’s on Water

If you think stories like this are important, become a member of Urban Milwaukee and help support real independent journalism. Plus you get some cool added benefits, all detailed here.

2 thoughts on “Taverns: Say Goodbye to Rosie’s on Water”

  1. CJ says:

    Wait… if they are going to rename it, it won’t be carrying on the tradition will it? (I don’t care either way, just pointing it out)

  2. Alvin says:

    Have someone else in the family run it

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us