OUR CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
Sophomoric me gives this place 4 stars just because it's on the former site of "Boobie's Place," .....I know, I know. Stupid.
Really, though. This Bronzeville live music salon, bar and restaurant has tons of spirit. And we didnt even catch it in full gear. We just caught the afternoon people hanging out; the live jazz comes later (Friday nights), and for that I'll surely return.
It was a hot afternoon. My Milwaukee host is a thoughtful, sometimes very serious, former-elite-federal-agent-turned-social-service-agency- executive who is also a gentleman who knows Milwaukee like a native. We had finished our Waukesha meeting and decided to go to the famed Jake's a/k/a Jake Levin's for a famed corned beef sandwich. No dice. It was closed.
So, what could be better than the next best in Bronzeville? Garfield's 502 at 4 p.m..
"They got a lot of cool cats in there; come on. .... Black Urban Professionals maybe ... it's a nice crowd."
And so it was.
We walked in. I was wearing my sunglasses. And the coolest cat of all sitting at the bar, about 350 lbs, BIG cigar, diamond pinkie ring (my kind of guy), pony tail, silk shirt, with two babes on either side of him takes one look at me and says:
"Hey, Ray Charles. How's it goin', baby?"
He broke me up. I smiled and took the sun glasses off; tipping them his way.
We sat down. I surveyed the back wall of hopefuls playing the slot machines.
Coolest cat of all bellowed: "Hey, Ray Charles, let me buy the first round."
We had some really good appetizers, aptly called the 502 for $5.02. A combination plate of fried catfish, fried chicken, onion rings, potatoes, etc....washed it down with an ice-cold Corona.
Too soon, we had to leave so I could make the train back to Chicago.
We were just getting started. --Michael S.
Great food, esp if you're in the mood for fried fish... Also free chicago style step classes & ballroom dance classes on Tuesday nights hosted by MSBU... always good music... they have a ton of other things gong on to cater to any time of crowd... they have been part of the community for a long time and I'm sure will be there for a very long time in the future.
Go to chill, eat, get a drink, dance or just to people watch almost any night of the week.... --Kiera B.
We are not your average neighborhood bar, nor is the Garfield's experience easily matched. We feature an eclectic crowd that is as diverse as they are fun. Whether you are looking for great friends, good political discourse, live music or solid business networking, our atmosphere can't be matched. Below are some personal accounts of some of our regular customers, explaining why they believe we are Milwaukee's best neighborhood bar.
Kim is the bar tender today and he makes me laugh! His Fiancée (also named Kim) makes me feel I belong with the girls at 502. That is very important to me. They are so happy together! Such happiness is unusual to me … but deeply consoling. Kim's best friend Phyllis will be there … they have known each other since they were kids.
I might bump into a retired educator – retired Principal actually - of a gifted learner’s middle/high school – revered for his contribution to Milwaukee’s education system. I love that he is such a confident polished man. I admire his courage. He may have just brought his wireless speaker so he can DJ on the Patio for us. The Patio is a true platform of free thought and opinion. I observe as a topical issue is brilliantly diced, analysed and concluded - not always in agreement – but Patio members recover quickly and they jab back with loud allegiance to each other … we are comfortable here ….
Retired golf club members, entrepreneurs and working counterparts might just drop by for an afternoon drink and talk --- it is a balmy Summer Sunday. A diverse and eclectic gathering begin darting comments at each other ... comfortable doing so ... as they have known each other for the last 30 years ..
A couple of retired Veterans who do not play golf will certainly be joining us – one is a retired Engineer the other was in Construction. A third who rarely turns up on a Sunday is there today .. he is a retired commissioned officer. A conversation will begin about their assignment overseas and as the evening wears away … experiences shared become an expression of their unparalleled sacrifice ... at this point the patio turns into a safe-zone, where it is alright to escape/vent/express their devotion for God and Country .. I sense their feeling of guilt for having survived their assignments and their mutual respect for each other. I have never witnessed such Patriotism … it is humbling …and a privilege to be among them.
Fenom is a younger successful professional – really good looking burly six foot four inches towering mountain of a man. He looks like the Bouncer – but he is actually a patron – we feel rather safe around him – he is very respectful of the ladies and watches out for them like a big brother. When Dr. Onick isn’t “D.J-ing” on the Patio - Phenom does … he is a great resource for up-beat 90s – 2000s hip hop, R&B ... a younger gathering joins the retirees .. they don’t ask him to change it … they just bounce on their chairs along with the music with a spattering of conversation on current issues – interspersed by sip of their favorite drink. Someone will suddenly ask, do we have Wings? Is the kitchen open? And in what seems to be a flash, a huge platter of freshly cooked wings emerges on the Patio … the kitchen appeared closed ....50 cents per wing …best wings you ever tasted … and someone has bought the entire patio some wings!
Fenom is popular – he has a following of friends his age – mid to c-level execs - who join him sometimes quietly on the Patio if the Retirees are dominating the space and sometimes loudly inside the club – playing the juke box and always planning …. an event, a social gathering, a fund raiser. They connect on social media – posting their events on their personal Facebook pages. This group of friends has organized charitable and successful events such as the 502 Breakfast Club.
Calvin – Jewel’s cousin might be there too. A shy but talkative young man … only talks when he is comfortable with someone ... deeply loyal to Jewel ..we have a special platonic connection – he is always happy to see me and it makes me feel special.
The balmy Sunday afternoon has evolved into a calm sultry evening. Where does the time go? We are all still talking, still dancing, still singing to the music in the club or on the Patio .. everyone is unwinding ... forgetting momentarily the deep responsibilities awaiting them tomorrow … the bar tender has unwaveringly moderated our drinking – handing out glasses of cold iced water along with every drink ordered …. we are now resolved to have one more drink before the night sets in and we all hug mention “be safe” and say good bye. The gentlemen escort the ladies to their cars .. no lady is left by herself to find her car in the dark ... it is just the 502 way.
The Garfield Experience
Here's a customer's passionate explanation of what the Garfield Experience is all about:
It’s Sunday afternoon and I am stressing about Monday –fidgety and trying to relax but unable to. Thinking in my mind that work would be less stressful if I didn’t have to deal with the irreverence for work that I witness every week -- -- my heart going out to the few who work double-hard to get things done. So I think of the one place that will take my mind off things …. Aahh! 502!