The Historic Walter Schmidt Tavern building was once Milwaukee’s longest single-family operated beer hall. Built in 1893, many of the tavern’s original historic features are still in place, including a patterned hex-tile floor, finished wood molding and millwork, wrought ironwork, and embossed glass in the tavern’s entry door. Exterior features of the building include a front terra cotta roof, leaded glass windows, and decorative piers in the Mission Revival style.
This 3,432 square foot building’s long history began when it became home to the Wally Schmidt Tavern in 1935. The tavern’s owner, Walter Schmidt, was born into one of Milwaukee’s longest-running tavern-keeping families and ran this well-known neighborhood gathering spot with his wife, Belle, for 44 years. The establishment was famous for its steak sandwiches and fish fries, and became known as a place where anyone would feel welcome.
Wally Schmidt retired in 1968, after which the tavern was leased to new owners who renamed it Max & Mildred’s (M & M Lounge). After falling into disrepair and a fire, the lounge closed in 2010 and the building remained vacant for years. In 2015, the building was bought out of foreclosure, renovated, and restored to its former glory.
The restoration utilized the City of Milwaukee’s Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing program to install LED lighting, an energy efficient HVAC system, an energy efficient water heater, increased insulation, and a new roof and windows. These improvements are expected to save the building almost $10,000 per year. The building is also a participant in the Better Buildings Challenge and continues to work toward energy reduction.
Visitors to the Historic Walter Schmidt Tavern will have the opportunity to view this historic renovation now occupied by a restaurant and seven small businesses. The building’s first floor houses The Tandem Restaurant, which features a seasonal full lunch and dinner menu and a tandem bicycle hung over a 100-year-old wood bar. Embark on a self-guided tour of the tavern, learn more about the building’s history, and marvel at its beautifully preserved original features.