Last month, The Hotel Foster closed its doors for good. The five-year-old bar and occasional music venue’s unfortunate conclusion put a stop to months of speculation and uncertainty regarding the bar’s fate, but Foster’s departure ushered in a few new questions. What would be moving into 2028 E. North Avenue? Is the East Side dying? On Saturday, September 24, the neighborhood and the swanky digs The Hotel Foster once called home will both be alive and full of activity with the opening of AM/FM, a full scale one-night pop-up bar that will bring live music, specialty cocktails, projected art, and a new food truck to the vacant space from 8 p.m. to bar close the following morning.
AM/FM is the brainchild of Boone & Crockett owner John Revord, who was also one of the original owners of Hotel Foster. While seeking a spot for a one-night rendition of “the backburner bar” he’s been wanting to open since he left Foster to focus on Boone, Revord got in touch with his former business partner, Hotel Foster owner Doug Williams.
“I was talking about doing a pop-up party somewhere, and I asked Doug how long his liquor lease goes until. It actually goes until the end of September, and he’s not out until the end of September,” Revord says.
Using Foster’s still-valid liquor license, bar, and coolers, AM/FM will come into the space and make it their own for the night. Whips, The Rusty P’s, and a secret headliner will play (with DJ Asher Gray, Why B, and Slim Brit spinning before/after acts). Video Villians with provide the bar’s decor by casting images into empty frames, and Revord says “the vibe will change between bands,” with new art being projected that will fit each performer’s sound.
Outside the pop-up establishment, Gypsy Taco‘s secondary truck will be taking a night off from tacos and, instead, will be slinging beef as Weezy Burger. Inside, there will be draft cocktails and beer served by guest bartenders, who customers might recognize from being behind the pine at Comet, Vanguard, and other establishments. Over the course of one night, AM/FM will move into a space that’s essentially vacant, fill it with fun, and leave the space empty the next day. Revord says this unique experiment is also a way of testing the waters to see if AM/FM could work as a permanent bar and venue somewhere in the city, but at the moment, he says he’s mostly concerned with the six-plus hours his “backburner bar” will be in business this month.
“It’s not going to be a huge moneymaker for me,” Revord says. “I just want to throw a crazy party in the old space that used to be mine, and kind of live the dream of the bar we wanted to open for one night.”
While the long-term fate of 2028 E. North Avenue remains a mystery, Milwaukee will at least be able to enjoy one more night of fun there.