A bar by any other name would still have beer
They say we are a polite and happy people, we Wisconsinites. Maybe this is still true at, say, the Happy Daze saloon in Kennan. But nowadays - given the state of our economy, our Brewers and our waistlines - there are at least as many drinks bein...
They say we are a polite and happy people, we Wisconsinites.
Maybe this is still true at, say, the Happy Daze saloon in Kennan.
But nowadays - given the state of our economy, our Brewers and our waistlines - there are at least as many drinks being served at the What The Heck bar in Spooner, the Grudgeville Pub in White Lake and Up-Chuck's in Arcadia.
I have never been inside Up-Chuck's, but if I ever am I hope to raise a toast to the place.
I am not the only one who believes there is a lot of truth in a name. After I visited B.S. on Main in Rice Lake recently to talk to Packer fans about what's-his-name going to the Vikings - and mentioned the B.S. in a column - I heard from Milwaukee TV sports-guy and Rice Lake native Lance Allan.
Lance didn't admit to spending a lot of time at the B.S. but did note that, when he was a kid, there used to be a bar in downtown Rice Lake called the House of Truth. His grandfather, he said, thought it was a church - a place, either way I guess, where people went for the service.
I understand the confusion. Most men of the cloth I know like to drink at least as much as us sinners. Still, I was surprised to find out that, down at Rev. Jim's Roadhouse in Madison, Jim really is supposedly a reverend.
"Yes, he is actually," bartender Melinda Risner assured me. "This place used to be an old McDonalds and has a drive-thru. They do drive-thru weddings." That's pretty cool. They don't even do that at Lost Vega's - a bar up in Phillips - although they will hold receptions, according to the co-owner.
"Our last name is Vega," explained Sheila Vega, who moved up there from Delafield with her husband. "And when we got here we were a little lost."
I've learned a few things about Wisconsin in my search for the perfect bar name. It is true we like our beer and kringle. Just ask anyone who has ever been to Fatman's in Rice Lake. Or Beer Belly's in Milwaukee. Still, we don't sugar-coat things. Instead of the Happy Shack or Smiley's as bar names, we have a place in South Range, up by Superior, called Kennedy's Bay of Pigs.
We also have more bad puns involving the word "Inn" than any other place in the universe. We have the Wander Inn, the Stumble Inn, the Swagger Inn and, in Lomira, the Do Me Inn. Then there's the place I've seen referred to as both Lloyd's Never Inn and Lloyd's Never Inn Again in Pewaukee.
I tried to call there but - you guessed it - Lloyd wouldn't pick up for some reason.
It is true we have a little drinking problem in this state - OK, a gigantic one, but at least we admit it - nowhere, perhaps, so much as down at Don's Detox in Arcadia.
"Detox," they say when they answer the phone there.
Owner Don Sylla tells me that they had a bar-naming party and "Don's Detox" won. But, he added, they serve a lot of food at all hours so people who have been drinking at one of Arcadia's dozen or so other bars can come in and eat and wait for a ride - so maybe there is a little truth in the name.
After searching high and low, I've decided that my favorite Wisconsin bar name is the one that best reflects our modest, self-effacing nature: The Dump. It's in Cambria.
Is it really a dump? I asked the owner, Libby Nehring.
"It used to be," she said, and they've just kept the name over the decades, along with - for Wisconsin, at least until things turn around - the perfect slogan.
"Warm beer, lousy food and indoor pool."
Contact Mike Nichols at MRNichols@wi.rr.com