Graham Kilmer

City’s Most Impressive Sports Bar Ever?

Bucks give a sneak peak of "The MECCA." Whoa, is it elevated.

By - May 1st, 2019 10:35 am
The MECCA Sports Bar and Grill. Photo by Graham Kilmer.

The MECCA Sports Bar and Grill. Photo by Graham Kilmer.

The Bucks gave the media a first look at what may be the most ambitious sports bar in Milwaukee.

The 38 foot centerpiece TV alone vindicates Milwaukee Bucks President Peter Feigin‘s declaration that The MECCA is an “elevated” and “one of a kind” experience. Not to mention that surrounding the massive 38-foot-wide screen are nine other flat screens. Which, were they not next to that massive centerpiece screen, would be grand in their own right. You can see for yourself when The Mecca Sports Bar and Grill, located at 1134 N. Vel R. Phillips Ave., opens this Friday, May 3.

Screens aside, the Bucks wanted a sports bar that mimicked the stadium experience. This is what they charged RINKA, formerly known as Rinka Chung Architecture, with designing. I’d say the designers, Matt Rinka and Steve Morales, delivered.

The huge, 12,000-square-foot bar has an open-concept feel to it, with a variety of unique seating options that ring the main bar. Rinka said they tried to design the space so every seat had an amazing view. Which is what a great stadium experience really boils down to, right? The view. And if you’re looking for the best one, take a cue from one of the designers, Matt Rinka. On the southwest corner of the second floor deck is a view of the center of the universe. At least, the center of the entertainment district universe, as Rinka noted. The corner provides an incredible view of the arena and the district, he effused.

This interaction between the inside of the bar and the rest of the live block was an important intention of the design. Wrapping around the outside of the bar is a series of glass garage doors, which can open in nicer weather and, “essentially created a front porch that wraps the whole corner,” Rinka said.

For those that don’t know, The MECCA draws its name from the Bucks of yore: It was the name of the Bucks arena from the late 60’s through the 80s. This namesake bar didn’t get its branding until construction had already begun. But Feigin said when the name was pitched in a meeting, “We were all on it.” (Urban Milwaukee’s Jeramey Jannene predicted this as a possible name.) Rinka said there were some early talks about painting the logo on the main floor of the bar, another nod to the classic basketball court. But that is not an affirmed design element yet.

Looking down at that main floor are three very interesting seating options. That’s right, seating options. The first is a row of seats on the mezzanine, halfway up to the second floor, dead center with the main screen. Rinka said these the are “catbird” seats in the house. Just above those seats are the a row of booths called the sky boxes. They are large roomy booths that, once again, provide a great view of that insane screen above the bar. And on the east end of the bar, is a row of VIP looking booths called the theater seats. They are basically the sports bar version of opera box seats, but without any bassos or sopranos singing. 

The food at The MECCA, brought to you by Executive Chef Matt Kerley, includes many bar-food staples, but also some more “elevated” (there’s that word again) options, like a veggie stir fry, shrimp tacos and Alaskan Salmon. But, fear not beet bashing Milwaukeeans, they have classics accompaniments like cheese curds and burgers, though still “elevated,” we’re told.  They even have an intense looking nacho offering called the Cream City Chimney Stack. Finally, if you’re wondering what the Bucks president likes to eat best at The MECCA, he is a chicken strip and shrimp kinda guy. A very elevated choice. 

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3 thoughts on “Taverns: City’s Most Impressive Sports Bar Ever?”

  1. says:

    It would be nice to know what the addresses of these places are?

  2. Dave Reid says:

    @Ron. Thanks. I added the address

  3. Mark Kennelly says:

    I went to Mecca last week and was blown away. It is truly incredible.

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