Sophie Bolich

Council Suspends McGillycuddy’s For 10 Days

Council committee acts after citing concerns over lax security, noise complaints at bar.

By - Nov 1st, 2022 03:18 pm
McGillycuddy's. Photo by Brett Kihlmire,

McGillycuddy’s. Photo by Brett Kihlmire,

McGillycuddy’s, a bar and restaurant in the East Town neighborhood, will be closed from Nov. 30 until Dec. 9 as a result of a suspension administered by the Common Council.

The council unanimously approved a 10-day suspension Tuesday morning, following a Licenses Committee hearing where nearby residents expressed distress at late-night noise levels and disturbances at the bar, located at 1135 N. Water St.

“It is absurdly loud,” said Samuel Goedart, who lives on the 14th floor of a neighboring apartment building. “It is audible through the window, very clearly, and I can’t sleep because of it. It’s been basically ruining my life.”

Goedart added that his principal concern is McGillycuddy’s outdoor speakers, which he said are responsible for the worst of the noise. He said he patronizes the bar on occasion and has noticed that the indoor music is kept at a similar level to other bars.

During the summer, the bar played music on the outdoor patio, which was covered by a tent. Owner Drew Deuster said he is taking steps to reduce the noise by building an enclosed pavilion in place of the tent. Construction is expected to start this fall.

The council also raised concerns over a two-item police report, which Alderman Bob Bauman called “highly disturbing.”

According to the police report, two groups of patrons leaving the bar approached police about armed individuals on the patio. The police observed the scene until the individuals left, at which point a foot chase ensued. Shots were fired and an individual was apprehended.

The incident occurred just two weeks after a May 17 shooting that injured 17 on Water Street, one block south of McGillycuddy’s.

Bauman initially called for a suspension of at least 30 days. “At least in this case, there was essentially zero security in place to prevent firearms from coming onto the premises,” he said. “I find it inexcusable. You complain about the city not doing enough, of everybody else not being responsible, but you can’t even do basic security for your premises.”

Following the firearm incident, Deuster said he purchased metal detector wands, but only uses them during busy times. The bar has also implemented pat-downs, bag searches and additional security, and is in the process of installing a new camera system, according to Deuster.

Duester said the issues McGillycuddy’s is facing are the result of a “shift in culture downtown.” He went on to skewer city officials, who he said are not stepping up to help businesses during unprecedented times.

“Our city leaders give us zero support, zero recommendations, zero solutions,” he said as part of his appeal to the council during Tuesday’s meeting. “Instead, we were put on an island to deal with a crisis unfolding right in front of us. And effectively, we were told ‘good luck.’ We’re alone to handle this crisis that we were not prepared or equipped to deal with.”

Duester expressed similar sentiments at his earlier hearing before the Licenses Committee. “For 15 years of doing business Downtown, we haven’t seen that issue before,” he said.

“I disagree,” Ald. Bauman replied. “There were issues last year. Guns on Water Street did not just happen in the summer of 2022.”

No council members objected to the suspension, which will take effect immediately following the current license’s expiration at the end of the month.

Deuster has been involved in operating a number of Milwaukee bars over the years, including Red Rock Saloon, Red, White and Blue and the now-closed DiModa Pizza & Hotspot.

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.

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