1983 Arcade Bar closing on Old World Third Street

Business sold, space will soon house new concept

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:21 pm

1983 Arcade Bar in downtown Milwaukee will soon shutter as a new owner plans to take over the space.

After less than two years in business, the gaming-themed tavern located on the first floor of the Riverfront Plaza building at 1110 N. Old World 3rd St. will close its doors once the Milwaukee Bucks’ playoff run has concluded, according to an announcement posted on social media early this week.

Co-owner Michael Sampson recently sold the business to VentureFifth, a Milwaukee-based firm that invests in several nightlife and dining concepts throughout the city.

“I opened the bar with my father-in-law (Edward Owen) and a couple other investors,” Sampson said in an email. “This past year I went through a divorce, so I wanted to buy him out. It’s sad that an adult process as a divorce can take over from a childhood dream of mine, but that’s life. Then I received an offer from VentureFifth that I couldn’t refuse.”

VentureFifth is owned by Edward DeShazer, who plans to open a new bar at the 7,235-square-foot space by mid-August. Plans for the new concept are still in the works, but it will cater to an age demographic that is older than what most Old World Third Street bars target, DeShazer said.

The area surrounding that already-popular nightlife strip has expanded in the past year with the new Fiserv Forum and newly developed Entertainment Block, however, DeShazer said, most of the new and existing establishments are geared toward younger, sports-loving patrons.

“We are hoping to cover a wide range of ages from 20s to 50s,” he said. “There are so many things happening over there besides sports, with all the concerts and the (Democratic National Convention in July 2020)… It’s a great opportunity to join the hottest area in Milwaukee.”

DeShazer approached Sampson earlier this year about purchasing 1983 Arcade Bar and taking over its lease.

“Michael has been a good friend of mine for many years and I know he is looking forward to pursuing other opportunities,” DeShazer said.

Sampson also owns Milwaukee-based Swarmm Events, which puts on a number of annual bar crawls and festivals including The Shamrock Shuffle and this year’s new Taco Fest. He also owns The Hive, a downtown co-working space that will open a second location next month.

Sampson said he will mainly focus on those ventures once 1983 closes.

By day, DeShazer is the executive director at Greater Holy Christian Academy, located at 5575 N. 76th St. in Milwaukee. He launched VentureFifth last year, starting with a capital investment in downtown night club No. 720.

The business has since grown its portfolio to include Paella Police food truck, Lost Whale cocktail bar in Bay View and Mucha Lucha, a speakeasy at Hotel Madrid in Walker’s Point.

“I’m very fortunate that I don’t have to operate, so a lot of times, I’m brought opportunities by operators who need a little extra support,” he said. “I am supporting someone else’s vision.”

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Maredithe has covered retail, restaurants, entertainment and tourism since 2018. Her duties as associate editor include copy editing, page proofing and managing work flow. Meyer earned a degree in journalism from Marquette University and still enjoys attending men’s basketball games to cheer on the Golden Eagles. Also in her free time, Meyer coaches high school field hockey and loves trying out new restaurants in Milwaukee.

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