Pabst Theater Group plans new music, wedding venue on Milwaukee’s East Side

To replace The Back Room @ Colectivo, closing at year's end

Pabst Theater Group's new music and wedding venue will open at 1818 N. Farwell Ave. Credit: Google

Last updated on May 23rd, 2023 at 11:13 pm

The Pabst Theater Group on Monday announced plans to open a new venue for live music performances and weddings on Milwaukee’s East Side.

The new venue will open next year at 1818 N. Farwell Ave., occupying a currently vacant portion of a commercial building that the Milwaukee-based concert promoter has agreed to purchase from Milwaukee-based real estate development firm New Land Enterprises. The yet-to-be-named, 450-person-capacity venue will replace PTG’s existing East Side concert hall, the 300-person Back Room @ Colectivo, which will close by the end of this year, according to a news release.

“We’re extremely appreciative of the long and productive relationship we’ve had with Colectivo Coffee, partnering with them in various capacities for over 20 years,” said Gary Witt, president and chief executive officer of PTG. “In the nearly eight years since we’ve opened The Back Room, we’ve discovered how much it’s helped grow the Milwaukee club scene and support similar venues like it. We’re excited to keep this momentum and vitality going with a space that we can curate to better meet the needs of our audience and community.”

The new venue on Farwell Avenue will offer a larger space and upgraded accommodations for artists –  similar to other Pabst Theater Group venues – with a special back alley and garage for loading equipment for shows. PTG will work with Milwaukee-based Kubala Washatko Architects to improve the building’s façade, making it more “street-friendly,” according to the release.

The 15,925-square-foot, single-story building currently houses three restaurants – Domino’s Pizza, Ethiopian Cottage and Chopstix Chinese Restaurant – all of which will remain tenants under PTG’s ownership. Once the venue opens, PTG plans to allow the three restaurants to deliver food to concert goers there.

New Land bought the building in 2016 for $1 million and once had plans to use the future venue space for weddings and events. Those plans never came to fruition, so the space has sat vacant for more than four years. The building is currently assessed at $1,919,900, according to city property records.

It’s the second East Side property PTG has purchased over the past year. In July, the group announced it had acquired the 148-year-old former Villa Filomena mansion at 1119 N. Marshall St. and continues to operate the building as an events venue, now known as the The Fitzgerald.

Like The Back Room @ Colectivo, the Farwell Avenue venue will serve as a rung on the “developmental ladder” for both local musicians and internationally touring artists who start out with a small following and eventually go on to sell out PTG’s larger venues like the Riverside Theater and Miller High Life Theatre. The group pointed to Lovejoy and Mitski as examples of artists who have moved up PTG’s ladder.

PTG hosts more than 700 shows and events annually at its own venues, the Pabst Theater, the Riverside Theater, Miller High Life Theatre, Turner Hall Ballroom, The Fitzgerald and the Back Room @ Colectivo, as well as at Fiserv Forum, UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena and Bradley Symphony Center.

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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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