The COVID-19 crisis has forced countless Milwaukee bars to get creative and think of ways to stay afloat during this deadly (and still very much ongoing) pandemic. Even as many places in and around metro Milwaukee are reopening, some businesses have decided to remain closed out of concern for the health and well-being of their staff and customers. The Highbury Pub is one of those establishments.
Since closing in mid-March, the Bay View soccer bar utilized its front window to temporarily transition to a to-go “Beer Store.” Even though the European Premier League recently restarted play and Milwaukee bars have now been given the go-ahead to reopen at 25 percent capacity, Highbury owner Joe Katz says is in no hurry to reopen. “It makes no sense for my business model to open and expose more people to possible harm,” Katz tells Milwaukee Record. “Twenty five percent capacity makes zero sense to me.”
Instead of rushing back to business as usual, Katz is thanking those who have supported The Highbury in recent months by giving them a chance to win a “Golden Ticket.” Last weekend, Katz started the promotion wherein one lucky customer and a friend of their choosing gets to have The Highbury all to themselves—not including a bartender—for the duration of a soccer match. Each pair (who are expected to wear masks and remain a safe distance from each other and staff the entire time) will be able to use their own restroom and will get free beer during the match. The owner says donations and tips from winners are welcome.
Katz credits Nick Korth, his friend and “main cog” in The Highbury’s Chelsea supporters group, for the unique idea. Golden Ticket winners are selected from a pool of people who have donated to Highbury’s relief fund—Venmo: Joe-Katz-16—in recent months. New donors are also eligible for Golden Tickets, and winners will be selected for matches every day (except Mondays, when Highbury is closed). Katz, who has no intention of reopening Highbury until COVID-19 conditions drastically improve, says he’ll try to pick winners for as many Premier League matches as possible until end of season.
So if you’ve always dreamed of having a soccer pub to yourself for a few hours, you can help The Highbury stay afloat and have a chance to win a so-called “Golden Ticket” when you send a donation to the bar.
“Regardless of the amount you donated through Venmo or the number of beers you drank chatting at the Beer Store window, Highbury will be forever grateful for all of your acts of kindness and generosity.” Katz says. “It has not gone unnoticed.”