A new Wall Street-themed bar is coming to Milwaukee's Walker's Point neighborhood.
Wall Street Stock Bar (WSSB) will open this fall at 219 S. 2nd St., serving up craft cocktails named after Wall Street moguls and light fare such as chicken salad, nachos and flat bread pizza. The concept will bring a "taste of the New York to the Midwest" is geared toward local business professionals looking for a casual spot to get work done or socialize over happy hour, said co-owner Charese Gardner.
The 1,438-square-foot space will have several TVs streaming national and financial news, as well as bar and table seating outfitted with wireless charging stations. There won't be loud music playing, but there will be live piano performances on weekends.
Gardner, also the CEO and owner of Gardner & Associates Real Estate and Investment Firm, is launching the establishment with her brother Jose Robinson, owner of Instant Karma Apparel. Like many people in their 20s and 30s, the two took interest in the stock market last year in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. They were originally inspired by their mom, who began trading stocks a few years prior after retiring from a longtime career at Harley-Davidson.
"She got our whole family into it, and literally every morning my mom gives us market updates ... and it's been lucrative," said Gardner, adding she didn't grow up with knowledge about the stock market.
The idea of opening WSSB, she said, came from seeing a surge of young people and amateur traders thirsty to invest in the stock market while older generations and professional investors resisted the wave of newcomers. Gardner hopes her bar will serve as common ground for anyone who knows stocks or wants to learn more. To that end, she compared it to a sports bar.
"Educationally, you hang around a sports bar long enough you're going to know more about sports," she said. "And if you hang around a stock market bar long enough, you'll familiarize yourself with stocks. I think that it's a good avenue for young people and older, seasoned people alike to have a chill spot to go."
She was also inspired by the happy hour culture in larger cities, such as Washington D.C., which has a strip of bars that are buzzing with business professionals after the work day and close by 9 or 10 p.m. Downtown Milwaukee has experienced a surge of development and activity in recent years, but there is limited options when it comes to bars that cater to and welcome business people of all backgrounds, she said.
In a racially segregated city, WSSB will aim to draw a cross section of patrons and employees.
"We talk about being so segregated and how we all want to join together but when is someone going to make the move... I want to take the initiative to bring people together," said Gardner, who is Black and employs an ethically diverse staff.
She sees the recent trend of young people investing in the stock market as one way to bridge the city's racial divide.
WSSB is targeting a September or October opening. Its South 2nd St. space has been home to numerous taverns over the years, including iconic LGBTQ+ bar Club 219. Most recently, DIY art studio and bar Rec Room Craft Co. occupied the space for about a year, closing in 2020.