This article was written about a year before Karl Lotharius bought Rieder's from Frank Rieder and opened Von Trier. Thanks to Bob C. for the article!
THE MILWAUKEE JOURNAL
Friday, November 19, 1976
Away From the East Side Hustle
by Jay Anderson of The Journal Staff
In the middle of the swinging East Side, surrounded by "in places" like Morry's on Prospect, LaVeers, Hooligan's, Vitucci's, Brothers Two, the Tuxedo and Century Hall, is a staid establishment of the most conventional terms.
Yet Rieder's, on the southwest comer of Farwell and North, has been going full tilt for more than 30 years.
It would be difficult to miss the 14 foot vertical sign that acknowledges the bar's existence, but many East Siders don't even know it's there.
"Rieder's? Rieder's?" asks Chet, who says he's a regular at East Side clubs. "Can't say I know the place, and I thought I knew them all." Then, after some thought, he adds: "Oh yeah! You mean the place across from the Oriental Theater. Nope, never been in there. Don't know why."
Cindy, who bowls at the Oriental Lanes in the theater building twice a week, says: "I never notice the place and I've been bowling here for two years. And I live around the corner on Ivanhoe."
She looks across the street: "It just doesn't look like a swinging place from the outside."
Inside Rieder's there are some 50 casually dressed people, most drinking dark beer. The tables are sturdy, square affairs surrounded by thatched chairs.
On shelves behind the 20 foot bar are sparkling glasses and top shelf liquor: Chivas Regal, Hennessy, Jim Beam, Beefeaters, Canadian Royal. The lighting is dim, and ceiling to floor curtains cover the entire north wall.
Cathy, who with roommate Annabelle had traveled from the Marquette University area to have a beer with Don, says, "It's not a singles spot. It's a place for casually dressed dates and small groups."
Away From the Mob
Don, wearing jeans and a sweater, says: "Three or four nights a week I'm in the singles rat race of noise and mobs. I save at least two other nights for a quiet evening out without getting all gussied up to go Downtown."
Annabelle, also in jeans and a sweater, says: "Have you looked at the numbers on the record player?"
They are unusual: a smattering of polkas, one Thelonious Monk (jazz pianist) and a plethora of operatic arias by Enrico Caruso, Edith Piaf, Jussi Bjoerling. There is not one disco recording.
Owner-bartender Frank Rieder's dress fits the recordings on his jukebox: short white cutaway jacket, white shirt, black bow tie, maroon cummerbund, black slacks and black patent leather shoes.
Seats at a Premium
"The draw here, I think," he says, "is my imported beer. While others have it, they don't specialize. And people come here to talk and hear each other. Plus they like my recordings. On the weekend you can hardly get a seat."
"The biggest play is Jussi Bjoerling. It's an old, scratchy 78 that I can't even replace, and I've had it on the box for at least 10 years. I'll bet it's played 50 times a night."
The average age of patrons appears to be that limbo stage of too old for discos, but too young not to be trusted. Dress appears to be very casual, yet suits don't stand out.
Conversation is hushed, and when Caruso's "Vesti La Guba" from Leoncavallo's "I Pagliacci" comes on, it stops altogether.