Early returns are positive for Dino'z on State Street
Everyone who has ever opened a tavern daydreams of large crowds of happy, thirsty customers and enjoying each other's company as the conversation, cocktails and good times flow.
Sometimes, as Dean Pawelski discovered, you can get too much of a good thing.
For roughly two years, Pawelski operated Dino'z Sports Bar at 5906 W. Burnham St. in West Allis. A lifelong resident of the area, Pawelski saw his bar grow more popular with patrons, particularly those playing in the sponsored dart leagues.
At times, the bar became uncomfortably crowded. The lack of a full kitchen left people hungry and squeezed for space. When the opportunity came to move a couple miles north into the area adjacent to Miller Valley, Pawelski jumped.
He moved to the spot at 5018 W. State St., a spot previously occupied by State Street Retreat and Jorgy's on State.
"The main reason for moving was the location," Pawelski said. "That and the idea that we could have a full kitchen. We were just too crowded at the other place."
Just two weeks after moving the new location, Pawelski has been impressed by the crowds who are finding their way through his door.
"It's been excellent -- probably better than we expected," he said. "It didn't hurt that we sponsor 17 dart teams and moved in the middle of the season so they all came with us.
"But, we're seeing some good walk-in crowds."
Among the people walking in -- employees and owners from nearby bars like Saz's, Hector's and Leff's Lucky Town.
"A lot of the business owners from down the street have visited," he said. "In fact, the guy from Hector's told me he was happy to see someone in here because it draws a bigger base of people to the valley.
"It's good for everybody."
Pawelski did some remodeling work before opening. "We've been putting in long hours," he said. "It has been intense, but that's what you have to do."
Dino'z offers what Pawelski calls "basic pub food," including burgers, a Friday fish fry and appetizers like chicken wings. Given his proximity to Miller Brewery, it's not hard to figure out which beer dominates his selection.
"We're definitely Miller-based," he said, adding that bar offers a handful of few import bottles and seven tap beers, including Riverwest Stein, New Glarus Spotted Cow and Leinenkugel Bock.
With more room in his new place, Pawelski hopes to offer live music, an attraction which added to the atmosphere -- and the crowds -- at his previous location.
"That's something I'd like to do," he said. "I'm looking into doing an open Sunday jam, too. I've been playing harmonica for 20 years, so that's something I think will be fun. It will give people a chance to get up and perform. It's always fun. It's always different."
Asked if there is anything different about the "new" Dino'z, which will allow smoking until the statewide ban takes effect in July, Pawelski said "We're just a comfortable, low-key place to come and have a beer and a sandwich and have a good time."
Based on the neighborhood, that could be a winning formula.
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