The Balkan history inside Milwaukee’s only gay sports bar

The Balkan history inside Milwaukee’s only gay sports bar

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88Nine Radio Milwaukee

Running a gay bar is a tough business.

Looking back on the last ten years or so, more than one LGBTQ bar or club has closed in as many years.

(So long, Boom/The Room, Bootcamp, Switch, M’s, Triangle, Hybrid, Ball Game, Club 219, Mona’s/Out ‘n About, City Lights, Pumphouse and Tempt.)

Photo via OnMilwaukee/Bobby Tanzilo.

Which means for those few remaining, the owners must be doing something right. Whether that’s maintaining a base of “regulars” or offering unique specials, each of the lasting establishments have carved out their own niche to keep customers coming back.

This week on Urban Spelunking, we visit Woody’s on 2nd and Lapham.

It’s the city’s only gay “sports bar” and, as you might expect, has a rich history totally unrelated to its current concept.

Photo via OnMilwaukee/Bobby Tanzilo.

Probably the most well-known of the businesses to operate in the Woody’s space was the Balkan Inn. It was open for decades, from 1944 to 1976, offering authentic Eastern European food and culture. It was owned by immigrants and was a magnet for other Eastern European settlers who lived in the Clock Tower Acres neighborhood.

Walk into Woody’s today and you’ll immediately get some retro vibes. The curved bar top itself is pretty unique, and you can see evidence of various additions over the years. Look close, says OnMilwaukee’s Bobby Tanzilo, and you’ll see where the old dumb waiter was once located.

Listen to our conversation above, and be sure to read Bobby’s complete story at

Photo via OnMilwaukee/Bobby Tanzilo.

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