At 1:30 a.m. on May 27, Yield Bar‘s 11-year run came to a quiet and abrupt end when the beloved East Side bar closed without notice. That unexpected end turned out to be just the beginning of a different story that would splinter a segment of a neighborhood’s bar scene and, whether intentional or not, impact another business in the process.
On June 8, Yield co-owner Patrick Kapple launched a GoFundMe campaign to “Save Yield Bar” that sought to raise $10,000 in donations (since lowered to $7,000) to help the business—which was ousted from its original Kenilworth Place location to make way for a ramen restaurant called Yokohama 1910—continue in a new site, possibly as early as July 1. Donations neared $1,000 within the campaign’s first day. However, support started to slow shortly after, possibly as a result of the rumored site of Yield’s relocation, the current site of The Hotel Foster.
This week, Kapple officially denied that Yield would be relocating to 2028 E. North Ave., where The Hotel Foster has stood since 2011—in July or ever.
“We are not going into that location,” Kapple tells Milwaukee Record. “Yield is 100 percent not going in there.”
In a June 8 interview, Kapple told Milwaukee Record that Yield was considering the possibility of moving into that space, which is owned by G Daddy’s BBC owner and operator Gary Johnson.
“We were approached as it being a vacant spot, and it turns out that wasn’t the case, and we moved on,” Kapple told Milwaukee Record this week. “The rumors got out of hand and that’s what caused all this confusion and this anger. Nothing was ever set in stone. Nothing was even close.”
There are drastically differing accounts as to what led Yield ownership to consider 2028 E. North Ave., why they are no longer exploring that possibility, whether the space was even available to begin with, and if it was, how close the relocation came to happening. Amid all the mounting speculation, building emotions, and divergent rumors are a few facts: At one point, Yield at least considered relocating to the space presently occupied by The Hotel Foster. Yield will not open in that site. The Hotel Foster has no intention to close.
Instead, Kapple says Yield opening anywhere on or around North Ave. is probably “not going to happen,” but that they hope to re-open the longstanding bar somewhere within Milwaukee city limits.
“The East Side is where we grew up and where Yield obviously started. We’d love to [stay there], but at this point, we’re probably looking elsewhere,” Kapple says. “I mean, there are lots of places that are up-and-coming. Brady Street is having a resurgence—Walker’s Point, Third Ward, Bay View, even Riverwest. We’re open to all possibilities, though we’d like to stay in the city limits and we’d like to stay in, basically, an entertainment district.”
Yield’s GoFundMe has raised $4,125 of its $7,000 goal at the time this article was written.
“We’re always going to be willing to give it a try, and we want to do it sooner than later,” Kapple says. “That’s what the money is for, and if it doesn’t happen soon, the money is going back to everyone.”
Doug Williams, owner of The Hotel Foster and a former Yield employee, leases the property on a month-to-month basis, which he says was implemented when he and Johnson started negotiating a new rent price. Though Williams tells Milwaukee Record he believes Johnson “is now focused on selling the building,” he remains poised to move past the contentious situation and keep his bar, the bar he says he literally built with his own hands, going as long as he has any semblance of control to do so.
“That’s the plan. This whole debacle has seriously hurt my sales with tons of people thinking I was either out of business or going out of business within weeks,” Williams says. “So as long as we can recover economically, I would like to keep everyone’s jobs.”