In Bars & Clubs

Straight Shots is a spacious two-room tavern, one side dedicated to pool and darts, the other to its large, horseshoe-shaped bar.

In Bars & Clubs

Bar manager Kyle Kozera did keep a large velvet painting of John Wayne, however: he refers to it as the bar's "security camera."

Straight Shots tavern doesn't let lack of windows dim good times

If you live in Bay View, you've probably driven past a windowless bar that, for three decades, was called the Oklahoma Tap. And you wouldn't be alone, either, if you were less than enthusiastic about checking it out.

But Kyle Kozera, the bar manager at the new Straight Shots, 1503 E. Oklahoma Ave., thinks he can change customers' minds once they set foot in the tavern his family bought just five months ago.

"I get that all the time," says Kozera. "When we put up the new sign, people from the neighborhood started coming, who were always in the area but never stopped in."

Straight Shots is a spacious two-room tavern, one side dedicated to pool and darts, the other to its large, horseshoe-shaped bar. Billiards have always been part of the bar's history, and they still are. Games cost just 75 cents, but Kozera keeps it free on Sunday and Mondays.

The décor has changed a bit from the days of Oklahoma Tap. Kozera installed eight new TVs and gambling machines. Gone are the vintage Hollywood posters that made the tap look dated, and not in a good way. Kozera did keep a large velvet painting of John Wayne, however: he refers to it as the bar's "security camera." Straight Shots is surprisingly bright, too, considering it doesn't have a single window.

Kozera knows a thing or two about the bar business, as his family runs a handful of taverns around the Milwaukee area, but Straight Shots is its first venture in Bay View. Kozera's uncle Steve Silber is the owner of the bar and Kozera says he is working on building a younger crowd than the one that used to frequent the Oklahoma Tap.

He says he's building a name in the neighborhood by keeping beer prices dirt cheap -- including "Das Boot" Fridays. Plans to introduce karaoke and open mic nights should help, too.

"I still get some of the regulars from the neighborhood, but every single person who's come in here has told me we've done a great job," says Kozera. "It's not just a young crowd, but a good crowd."

And, Kozera says this summer, he might even open up a window or two.

"We are going to put a couple of windows in. It'll be a little adjustment," says Kozera.

Even on a Sunday night, Straight Shots is doing a swift business, and Kozera says that an inexpensive neighborhood bar is about as recession-proof as they come.

"We're a good Bay View bar. People can have a nice time and play a little pool. I'm having a great time."


Talkbacks

VD2 | Jan. 24, 2009 at 3:38 p.m. (report)

Why don't you just start painting the bars around Bay View pink?? Another good bar turned soft thanks to the new era of Gay View.

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remedy | Jan. 13, 2009 at 3:28 p.m. (report)

Straight Shots is an excellent Bay View watering hole. Kyle is the friendliest bartender in Milwaukee. Please go visit and enjoy the cheap prices! Glad OnMilwaukee finally covered this mysterious gem.

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