Waukesha’s historic Club 400 bar sold

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:12 pm

Les Paul in front of Club 400. (Photo courtesy of Club 400.)

The Club 400, a 70-year-old bar in Waukesha, has a new owner. Dan Pokwinski recently sold the historic establishment, after 36 years of ownership, to James Lindenberg.

James Lindenberg is a Waukesha native and son of Jim Lindenberg, who owns Master Z’s in Waukesha. He started bar tending at Club 400 a couple of years ago. When Pokwinski announced he would sell the bar, Lindenberg immediately expressed his interest in purchasing it.

“It had been a dream of mine to own a bar in Waukesha,” Lindenberg said. “(Pokwinski) wanted someone who would keep the tradition going and not change it too dramatically.”

He plans to continue the Club 400 traditions, including the bar’s softball teams, dart leagues and famous chicken wings. All booked reservations will be honored and Club 400’s staff will also remain unchanged, despite the new ownership.

Lindenberg said he wants to preserve the establishment’s history, which started when it opened in 1894 as the Northwestern Hotel and stood across the street from Waukesha’s old train station– now a Mexican-style restaurant called El Estacion. 

In 1948, relatives of Waukesha-born guitar legend Les Paul opened Club 400 as a nightclub where Les Paul played during the 1950s. Other musicians, including Bruce Springsteen, have also visited the bar throughout the years. Powinski bought the bar from George and Ralph Polsfuss in 1981.

Club 400 is a popular bar for students and alumni of Carroll University, which is located nearby. Lindenberg said he wants to continue the traditions that make Club 400 a favorite spot among customers.

“I hope to own it for many years and when the time comes, I will pass it along to someone who will keep those same traditions and its history,” Lindenberg said.

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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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