Tony Wojtecki remembers his late father hanging out with his friends -- most of who worked in breweries -- and sipping bottles of Pabst or Schlitz. When Wojtecki opened his own bar, he wanted to name it something that would remind him of his dad.
Hence, The Bottle Milwaukee -- commonly referred to as simply "The Bottle" -- was born.
"I wanted 'Milwaukee' in the name," says Wojtecki. "I like this city. I'm really proud of it."
Located in the old Slammer's Sports Club space, 1753 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., The Bottle looks nothing like the slightly seedy sports bar that it replaced.
"To put it bluntly, we made it a lot classier," says Wojtecki, who worked at Slammer's as a bartender for three-and-a-half years before taking over the lease with business partner Joe Angeli. "And we have lots of plans for the future. It's a work in prgoress."
The space is brighter and more open, with walls removed, columns replaced with brass poles and boarded windows once again fit with glass. Soon liquor bottles will artistically hang from the ceiling.
"We're smack dab between Bay View and Walker's Point, so it was important to us that we appealed to everyone," says Wojtecki, 32, who was born, raised and still lives on Milwaukee's South Side.
Mixing the old with the new, The Bottle features vintage signage and dark wood combined with flat screen TVs (yes, the place is Packers-friendly) and a CD-less sound system comprised of satellite radio and an iPod.
The "ragging" technique painted on the walls is dated and the space really needs art, but the overall feel is warm and friendly with good lighting and interesting spaces including a video game room in the back. Wojtecki says he will soon have a high-tech bowling game that's the first of its kind in Wisconsin.
Wojtecki plans to have live music in the future. For now, they serve pizza and feature the same special every night of the week: $2 bottles or shots.
"We're an upper class bar with blue collar prices," he says.