Sophie Bolich

Beans Fest Celebrates Beans & Barley’s 50th Anniversary

Party with the East Side restaurant and store. Live music, food and drink specials, vendors and more.

By - Aug 9th, 2023 06:14 pm
Beans & Barley. Photo taken Aug. 9, 2023 by Sophie Bolich.

Beans & Barley. Photo by Sophie Bolich.

It’s no small feat to run a business for five decades, but Beans & Barley makes it look easy-peasy.

In honor of its 50th birthday, the East Side specialty store and restaurant will host a day-long celebration, Beans Fest, featuring live music, food and drink specials, vendors and more.

The event, sponsored by 91.7FM WSME and Lakefront Brewery, will be held on Saturday, Aug. 12 in the Beans & Barley parking lot, 1901 E. North Ave.

Beans & Barley, first opened in 1973, offers a little bit of everything — there’s a sit-down restaurant, all-homemade deli, coffee bar and gift shop stocked with greeting cards, candy, clothing and other trinkets.

“Hearing the cherished memories shared by our regulars warms my heart,” said James Neumeyer, co-owner of Beans & Barley, in a statement. “I eagerly look forward to the overflow of new stories and camaraderie at Beans Fest.”

The day’s festivities will kick off bright and early at 9 a.m., when DJ Johnny Z from 91.7FM WMSE’s The ChickenShack takes over the Blues Hideout show for a live, remote broadcast. Beans Fest attendees are invited to tune in on-air or in-person at Beans & Barley to experience music and interviews before the official start of the fest.

“We are incredibly proud to sponsor the celebration of 50 years of Beans & Barley,” said Tom Crawford, WMSE station manager. “As a community-driven radio station, we value the impact of local institutions like Beans & Barley in creating a vibrant city. Beans Fest will be a true testament to this beloved establishment’s rich history and lasting legacy.”

At 11 a.m., DJ Christreater will take to the stage for an hour-long set, followed by a five-band lineup that includes Chase, Adorner, Double Truck, Power Wagon and Marielle Allschwang & The Visitations. All performers are current or former Beans & Barley employees, a testament to “the talent nurtured by Beans & Barley over the years,” the company said in a news release.

“Our walls have been witness to countless stories, experiences, and connections that have enriched our lives beyond measure,” Neumeyer said. “We take immense pride in having fed notable musicians like Perry Ferrell of Jane’s Addiction and Fugazi‘s Ian MacKaye, but what truly fills us with pride is being a pillar of the East Side community — a place where our guests come to feel at home, enjoy time with loved ones, and, above all, have a great time.”

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One thought on “Beans Fest Celebrates Beans & Barley’s 50th Anniversary”

  1. Virginia Small says:

    Kudos to all the owners, employees and customers who have sustained Beans and Barley over these past five decades! It’s wonderful to see how the values that founded it have carried through all these years.

    I was one of the first few employees when Michael Stevens and Debbie Brown Stevens founded it back in 1973, as a tiny storefriont grocery on Murray (just north of Thomas). It’s one of Milwaukee’s success stories, in terms of fostering community and healthy living. Adding the restaurant helped make it a favorite “third space” long before that phrase was coined. May Beans thrive for for many more decades!

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