This Is It! Celebrates 50th Birthday

State's oldest LGBT+ bar celebrates a half century in business with weekend party.

By - Jul 31st, 2018 02:05 pm
This Is It! Photo by Joey Grihalva.

This Is It! Photo by Joey Grihalva.

Proclaimed as Milwaukee’s oldest running LGBT+ bar, This Is It! will celebrate its 50th anniversary this weekend with three days of events beginning Friday, August 3rd at 5:30 p.m. Located at 418 E. Wells St., the downtown bar will kick everything off on Friday night, with an outdoor open bar from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., just before the official opening ceremony at 6:30 p.m.

Karen Valentine will host the opening ceremony with commemorations for the milestone the bar has achieved. Others who will speak include Michail Takach as the keynote speaker, providing some history of the oldest gay bar in Milwaukee, along with additional commendations from U. S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, Rep. Jonathan Brostoff, County Executive Chris Abele, and more to be announced. It is also rumored on social media that Mayor Tom Barrett will attend sometime during the celebration as well. See the Facebook event post for more details.

This Is It! is not only the oldest running LGBT+ bar in Milwaukee, but in the entire state of Wisconsin. The bar was opened in 1968 by then owner June Brehm, who had been previously running a supper club in Butler (a village in Waukesha County) before wanting to move to downtown Milwaukee. After searching for a vacant building in Downtown, she stumbled upon the prime location at 418 E. Wells St. and proclaimed “This is it!” The rest, as they say, is history.

Although June passed away in 2010, she handed ownership of the bar over to her son Joe Brehm, where he operated it for a while until recently handing over operations to George Schneider and Michael Fisher. Urban Milwaukee’s Michael Horne wrote a comprehensive and fun story about the bar’s history back in 2014.

Aside from the historic feat this bar has accomplished, numerous drink specials still take place every week. Horne’s article has more information on just how spontaneous the specials can be:

Happy hour drinks are a dollar off, with numerous discounts on bottled beverages and cocktails. Tuesdays offers progressive discounts the more you drink– a half a buck off the first, then a dollar off the next, then a buck fifty, then 2-4-1. Then you better be going home. Bring the leftover chips back next Tuesday. On Sundays you get a wristband, with the best deals early in the afternoon. There are 3-for-1 Fridays, and a special deal whenever the disco ball drops. Other specials apply, some so complicated only an accountant could understand them.

Other than the variety of specials on cocktails, the bar offers beer on tap from Lakefront Brewery as well as Miller Lite, New Glarus Spotted Cow and more.

This weekend is the perfect time to check out the oldest gay bar in the state, and experience a historical moment of pride for a business that exemplifies the most diverse city in Wisconsin — This Is It!

This Is It!

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