Wisconsin man keeps track on the history of tavernsJoe Kazda has ventured into scores of downtown taverns, all in the name of comprehensive research and, maybe, a cool glass of beer.
By: Charlie Mathews, Herald Times Reporter of Manitowoc, Superior Telegram
MANITOWOC, Wis. (AP) — Joe Kazda has ventured into scores of downtown taverns, all in the name of comprehensive research and, maybe, a cool glass of beer.
"Now, this bar has a clean exterior of cream brick and when you walk in you see the old, original oak bar," said Kazda, 54, sitting on a stool at Replay Sports Bar, 1502 Madison St., in a corner tavern built in 1893. Kazda has created a Web site dedicated to "the many colorful characters of Manitowoc that are known as tavern keepers, bar owners and purveyors of fine drink."
He started collecting stories, photographs and memorabilia of downtown Manitowoc bars in winter 2008 after selling a Madison-based pet supply business.
Nearly 200 bars are catalogued by name or street address on Kazda's site, www.manitowoctavernhistory.org.
He shared a drink menu from Del's Cardinal Lounge, 806 Buffalo St., circa 1960, with a glass of wine costing 35 cents, a 12-ounce glass of domestic beer going for 40 cents and a grasshopper cocktail with ice cream priced at 75 cents.
The bar is now called Shoot the Bull and reflects how many taverns have had several names and multiple owners over the years.
"The best part about running a tavern? You don't have to answer to anybody but yourself," said Steve Gauthier, Replay's owner since 2004.
By 1:30 on a recent afternoon, a dozen regulars were watching the Wisconsin Badgers basketball team in the Big 10 tournament at the south-side bar with previous owners including Bernard Kowalski, Fred Pilster, Chas Pekulik and Ed Peaschek.
Before Gauthier created Replay, it was known as Nick's for 35 years. Gauthier doesn't have any blenders on his bar for ice cream drinks or margaritas. "We're a beer and whisky kind of bar," Gauthier said.
He didn't say it with the attitude of Nick the bartender in the movie, "It's a Wonderful Life," who tells Jimmy Stewart's angel wanna-be, "We serve hard drinks in here for men who want to get drunk fast, and we don't need any characters around to give the joint 'atmosphere.'"
Kazda, a 1974 Lincoln High School graduate who now lives in Markesan, said he pieced together dates and addresses using old phone books and city directories.
He acquired images from the Manitowoc Public Library and Manitowoc County Historical Society.
"What is rare is to find a picture of a bartender standing outside his own bar," Kazda said.
"But the great bars in town always had the owner behind the bar, like Joe Koral behind Koral's and Del behind his bar ... that would define classic Manitowoc taverns," Kazda said.
His Web site attempts to give vignettes of Manitowoc bars going back to 1940, and Kazda has a photocopy of a newspaper ad from that year from Rod's Tavern, 901 Buffalo St.
It touts "the finest wine" at 40 cents a quart or $1.29 a gallon and 4-year-old Kentucky bourbon for $1.25 a pint and "a full-size drink only 10 cents."
Kazda also collects historical barware. "However, I rarely see, even in antique stores, memorabilia from local taverns. They used to give out all kinds of things like cards and coin purses with their name on them," he said.
Kazda pointed approvingly to one wall of Replay featuring a wooden sign, "Red Garter Cocktail Lounge — Cocktails $1," located at 908 Washington St. back in the 1970s.
He credits four Manitowoc buddies for helping him get his project going, including a cousin, Craig Kazda, as well as John Labinski, Paul Karlin and Mike Gallagher, who continues to bartend.
"My wife, Elizabeth, also supports my tavern project even though she is a teetotaler," Kazda said.
He welcomes submissions from individuals with bar items or photographs, like Del's wife, Gwen Brault. Photographs may be e-mailed to Kazda or on his frequent visits to Manitowoc he brings a scanner for instant image capture.
Information from: Herald Times Reporter, http://www.htrnews.com