Sophie Bolich

A New Downtown Bar and Restaurant

Copper on King opened in early May, replacing longtime sports bar Buck Bradley's.

By - May 14th, 2024 11:47 am
Site of Copper on King, 1019 N. Martin Luther King Jr Dr. Photo taken May 13, 2024 by Sophie Bolich.

Site of Copper on King, 1019 N. Martin Luther King Jr Dr. Photo taken May 13, 2024 by Sophie Bolich.

A new bar and restaurant recently joined the ranks of Milwaukee’s downtown entertainment district, replacing the long-standing Buck Bradley’s, which closed its doors last July.

Copper on King, the latest venture from Pete Marshall and his partners, quietly welcomed its first guests in early May. Now firmly in its soft opening phase, the business, 1019 N. Martin Luther King Jr Dr., is beginning to ramp up operations with plans for a packed summer ahead.

In fact, Marshall was hard at work on said plans earlier this week, scribbling details in a small notebook while seated at a high-top table, but took a brief pause to show off the business’s revamped interior.

If its predecessor was a lived-in letter jacket, Copper on King is the championship trophy — sleek, shiny and quite large.

“It’s just such a big space,” Marshall said of the bar and dining area, which contains seating for up to 165 patrons. It’s also newly outfitted with an abundance of copper details, from light fixtures and wall-hangings to a small army of moscow mule mugs assembled behind the bar.

Gone are the candy-striped awnings, taxidermy and historic photos that adorned the former sports bar. Throughout the redecorating process, however, Marshall said he sought to honor the previous occupant whenever possible.

“Everything was so nice already that all we had to do was really bring it into our theme a little bit,” he said. “We really just reimagined Buck Bradley’s as what it would be if it was opened in 2024.”

The building’s Cream City brick walls, formerly papered over with sports memorabilia, are now on full display. But customers can rest assured that none of the mementos went to waste.

Many of the pieces, particularly photos, were retrieved by their original owners or the family members of those pictured. Others will be repurposed as new decor.

“We want to be sure to use up some of the things that nobody collected,” said Megan Marshall, Pete’s wife and business partner. “It was really important to us that Buck Bradleys’ legacy is celebrated.”

The tavern’s 76-foot-8-inch bar, now the second-longest in Milwaukee, remains, as do its original wood stools. Live plants add a pop of color, while copper-clad pillars play up the warm-tones in the wood detailing throughout the space.

“There’s so many thoughtful, very unique aspects of the architecture … we wouldn’t dream of ruining anything that felt like it was supposed to be that way,” Megan said.

From start to finish, the project took just under a year to complete; however, Pete said he’s had the copper-focused concept in mind for much longer than that. “I’ve sat on it for so long,” he said. “It’s been in my back pocket.”

Pete, who also owns Pete’s Pub on Brady Street, said he first considered the copper theme for that business, but ultimately decided against it.

The new space provided a perfect opportunity.

“It worked out so well because they renamed it King Drive,” he said of the street, which was known as N. Old World Third St. until 2022. “It was perfect. It just all came together.”

Throughout his time in the industry, Pete has become adept at reading his audience. As a result, he approached the latest venture much differently than his Brady Street operation.

“We want this to feel like a big city bar,” he said. “The Milwaukee pubs in the area are amazing, but I couldn’t just do another Pete’s Pub here because it would be like bringing sand to the beach. The beach is great, everyone is doing awesome and it might be hard to compete. So we wanted to do something that was maybe a little level up.”


While there’s plenty of room at the bar, guests at Copper on King can also look forward to a well-rounded menu of burgers, sandwiches, soups, salads and entrees, as well as small-bites and shareable appetizers.

Those seeking traditional pub fare will find it in chicken wings, pork rinds and smash burgers, while others may gravitate towards more polished entrees such as short ribs and chicken parmesan.

The restaurant also serves hearty jambalaya, snackable roasted chickpeas and a flavorful whipped feta dip topped with hot honey and crushed pistachios.

Jeff Hodge, chef for Copper on King, designed the menu with input from JD von Stockhausen, who leads the kitchen at Pete’s Pub.

To drink, Copper offers a selection of local and imported beers, Island Orchard Ciders and wine. A cocktail list features several variations on the classic Moscow mule, including blackberry, mai tai-inspired, mezcal and non-alcoholic options.

Non-mule cocktails include the ruby-red Beet Marshall, featuring beet juice, lemon juice, green apple vodka, simple syrup and Freixenet Cava; red sangria; and The Rosella, a non-alcoholic drink flavored with hibiscus and rose.

Upcoming Projects

As Copper on King continues to settle in, several upcoming projects are still on the docket.

This summer, the business plans to activate its existing parklet for outdoor dining with a view of bustling King Drive. Later on, the building’s second floor will be updated with the goal of hosting events.

One of the upper-level rooms, Pete said, will be used for “all kinds of parties” including baby showers, birthdays and more. The other will become an upscale event space called Mint, and will be geared towards corporate gatherings.

For the latter space, Pete said he envisions a lounge area with top-shelf beverages, an all-you-can-eat buffet, pool tables and darts. “We’re going to try to keep the capacity low there so that everyone has loads of room,” he said.

Along with Pete and Megan, Jerry Bussen is a partner in the business. Fi Kool is the event manager for both Copper on King and Pete’s Pub. Juston Calvert is the general manager.

A grand opening celebration for Copper on King is forthcoming. A finalized date will be announced via social media in the coming weeks.

For now, Copper on King is open Sunday and Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. and Friday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. The kitchen closes at 11 p.m. each day.

The business is closed on Mondays.


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Categories: Food & Drink

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