Biztimes Milwaukee visits Best Place at former Pabst brewery

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 10:01 am

The Best Place Vintage Gift Shop opened last week in the former Pabst gift shop in The Brewery complex at 901 W. Juneau Ave. in downtown Milwaukee. BizTimes Milwaukee reporter Andrew Weiland takes a closer look at what the Gift shop has to offer, and talks to owner Jim Haertel about his plans for the rest of building in an exclusive video interview

The Best Place Vintage Gift Shop opened last week in the former Pabst gift shop in The Brewery complex at 901 W. Juneau Ave. in downtown Milwaukee. BizTimes Milwaukee Reporter Andrew Weiland takes a closer look at what the Gift shop has to offer, and talks to owner Jim Haertel about his other plans for the building in this exclusive BizTimes video interview.

The gift shop is part of the

Best Place

complex, which is owned by Brew City Redevelopment Group LLC (consisting of Jim Haertel and other investors). The

Best Place

complex is part of the former Pabst brewery and includes the former Pabst gift shop, Blue Ribbon Hall, visitor’s center and corporate offices. Best Place is named after the original founder of the brewery, Jacob Best, Sr.

Most of the items sold at the new gift shop are items recovered from the Pabst brewery.

“Over 80 percent of our merchandise was recovered from the former Pabst Brewery, largely left behind when Pabst closed in December of 1996,” Haertel said. “For those items purchased, we provide a special Pabst card designating, ‘Authentic Item-Recovered from the Historic Pabst Brewery.'”

Examples of the merchandise available, while they last, include beer mirrors, Pabst patches, ponchos, beer glasses, cancelled stock certificates, coasters, including Schlitz, Blatz and Hamm’s brands and more. Haertel also is displaying items from his own collection.

“We also have 20 percent devoted to new items to round out our selection,” said   Suzanne Ehlke, director of sales and marketing for the gift shop. “T-shirts and hats. But for the holidays, we have beer-themed ornaments, fancy steins and gift cards, too.”

Haertel and Paul Bertling originally obtained the accepted offer to purchase the former Pabst Brewery on Sept. 11, 2001.

“We acquired a lot of stuff, we are keeping one of everything and selling what’s left,” Haertel said. “A lot of people love being able to walk away with a little piece of history, we just wish they had left more stuff behind.”

Plans to have a Hofbrauhaus beer hall and restaurant occupy Blue Ribbon Hall have fallen through. However, Haertel is hosting group events and tours at the facility and plans to open a pub in the former visitor’s center area by early next year.

“We always wanted to do more of a phased approach anyway,” Haertel said. “That was going to be a lot of money all at once, and so now we are sort of back to original plan.” Haertel has opened the gift shop and plans to open the pub and will host banquets, meetings and events in Blue Ribbon Hall.

“We look forward to reinvesting the profits from this place into fixing up the great hall and some of the corporate offices so there is no end to what we can do, but we are taking more of a phased approach,” he said. 

Eventually Blue Ribbon Hall may be used for a restaurant, he said.

To view historic photographs from the former Pabst Brewery, and listen to a 1944 radio broadcast featuring American actor and comedian Groucho Marx at Pabst for its 100th anniversary check out previous coverage by BizTimes Milwaukee executive editor Steve Jagler.

 

To view footage from BizTimes Milwaukee’s tour of Best Place click on the video

 

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