Starting Sunday, February 19, Red Maple MKE will officially be open for business. The new bar—located at 100 W. Maple Street in the former site of Ollie’s on the southern edge of Walker’s Point—is the second drinking establishment owned by Robin Koutecky, a longtime Mad Planet bartender who opened Clementine’s in September 2021.
Despite telling us she “was not looking to open another bar,” a mixture of timing, price, and location prompted Koutecky to purchase the property in January of last year.
“I think part of the reason I bought this bar is my mom owned a bar right over there,” Koutecky says. “My mom owned one of the only punk rock bars in the city in the ’80s—Cafe Voltaire. That was my mom’s and she just died, so when I saw this place, I could see where it was and almost touch it.”
After acquiring the building, Koutecky spend the next year-plus making extensive renovations to the building.
“It was really grody,” Koutecky says. “There are two things in this building that I kept—the urinal and the water heater.”
Beyond repainting both the exterior and interior, the property also has electrical updates, new flooring installed both upstairs and in the basement, new plumbing put in, a brand new bar built for the business, updated lighting, and even new door handles.
Virtually all evidence of Ollie’s was erased. In its place is a 900-square-foot and 49-capacity space that Koutecky describes as “a corner tavern meets a dive bar in Tokyo.” The owner’s love and appreciation of Japan’s street art and culture is evident in the bar’s decor. It will also be displayed in some of Red Maple’s drink offerings, including items like a cherry blossom old fashioned, Japanese renditions of Manhattans and Mojitos, a selection of Japas beers, sake, and a Japanese take on a Bloody Mary.
There will also be Wisconsin bar standbys on hand, such as Molson-Coors products, local craft beers, Great Lakes Distillery cocktails, and Clementine’s “Clem” beer and shot special consisting of a Pabst Blue Ribbon tallboy and a shot of Tullamore Dew. There will also be a TV mounted behind the bar that, yes, will show Packers and Bucks games.
Red Maple MKE will be a bar of varying identities, but Koutecky hopes it will be a place where everyone feels welcome. Once it opens later this month, Red Maple’s hours will be 11 a.m. to midnight Sundays through Thursdays and 11 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
We could also mention her plans to open a restaurant concept in the neighboring garage that came with the property by the end of summer or her aspirations to host a street party on Maple Street at some point. However, we’ll wait until those things come closer to fruition. Until then, check out these 25 photos of Red Maple MKE and stop by the bar starting February 19.