For many, a night out with friends at a bar includes shooting pool, throwing darts or a game of bar dice.
But the bar scene is changing and a lot of innovations are coming to Milwaukee pubs that make traditional bar games look dull by comparison.
One of the most interesting newcomers is AXE MKE, which will join the East Side scene with a grand opening on Wednesday, June 16. This is a bar where people will throw an ax at a target for fun. Yes, people will do this while they are drinking. Hopefully, they’ll be careful.
“Think of a cross between bowling and darts,” said Marla Poytinger, one of the co-owners of AXE MKE. “You can rent a lane or two, grab drinks from the bar, and kick back for some friendly ‘lumberjack-style’ competition. It’s insanely fun.”
One of the first bars in Milwaukee with a unique game theme was Spin, a pingpong bar that opened in the Historic Third Ward in 2010, later changed its name to Evolution Gastro Pong, and moved to North Old World Third Street in 2015. The move put it about a block away from the new Milwaukee Bucks arena. It’s not the only unique game bar coming to that area. 1983 Arcade Bar, a retro video game bar with classic arcade games, opened in December on North Old World Third Street. And sources told BizTimes Milwaukee that national chain Punch Bowl Social plans to open a location in the Entertainment Block the Bucks are building across the street from the arena. Punch Bowl Social features food, drinks and games including bowling, shuffleboard, pinball and Skee-Ball.
Another classic arcade game bar, Up-Down, is planned on East Brady Street.
But the newest bar concept planned in Milwaukee combines some of the Wisconsin’s greatest loves: bars, bowling and football. First and Bowl, planned on South Barclay Street, will feature foot-bowling, a game in which people try to knock down bowling pins by throwing a football at them.
Why? Why not?
“People, generally speaking, are interested in some type of activity other than just sitting at a bar,” said Bryan MacKenzie, who is leading the group working on First and Bowl.
And why just sit at a bar when you can sit and…pedal, or paddle? The group that operates the popular Milwaukee Pedal Tavern (rolling bars powered by patrons pedaling them down the street) last year launched Milwaukee Paddle Tavern, a boat version of the Pedal Tavern.
With so many bars in Milwaukee, I’m sure I’m missing some that are trying new things. Some of these concepts have been done in other markets before, but it’s interesting to see so many of them coming here now. There are more ways to enjoy a night out in Milwaukee than ever before.