Mike Romans

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cicerone

Romans has been running his pub at 3475 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. since 1978, and he doesn’t take any crap or mince any words. He knows his own value: “People come in here to see me,” he says, “not other bartenders.” And he knows how he wants the bar to run: “Some bars take everybody’s buck, but I don’t have to. If you come in here drunk, I won’t serve you.” And he doesn’t want any birthday parties or pub crawls. “I don’t want them disrupting the place and running off my good customers.”

“I took what I learned and put it together here,” says Romans, reflecting on his prior bartending and managing experiences. “So far it’s been a good formula.” However, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing. In 1996, Romans’ Pub was falling on hard times. Looking for a drastic change, Romans decided to start serving specialty beers in order to better educate peoples’ palettes. Around that time, he also had a falling out with Miller Brewing Company that ended with them warning that he would never make it in the city without them.

Years later, the pub is still thriving. In fact, Romans says last week, which was beer week in Milwaukee, was his busiest week ever. Romans still has Miller Lite for the people who really want it, but he “saves or converts souls every day” when he can convince them to try something else. “Craft beers are really doing well right now,” he says. “They’ve shown double digit increases in sales every year. It’s the bigger breweries who are struggling.”

Romans’ beer selection is constantly changing. In the last week and a half alone, he’s tapped 17 barrels. The selection list is constantly updated on a huge board hanging in the pub. Romans handles this himself, climbing up on a ladder to painstakingly write in all 30 choices with perfect penmanship. “Not bad for a shaky old man,” he jokes. The current beer selection can also be found on the pub’s website. - from UrbanMilwaukee.com