In the Brew City, it’s difficult to stand out as a bar. Competitors are a dime a dozen.
So, when Drew Kent purchased the space previously occupied by Cloud Bar at 111 W. Howard Ave., he decided to make his personality as a quirky English and theater teacher a part of the new place’s vibe.
Wërd Bar (pronounced “weird”) — so named partly because of the bar’s strange décor, but also because it’s his first name spelled backward — is filled with oddities and curiosities. Glance around the bar and you might notice an “alien” skull adorning a shelf, or a fake arm protruding from the ceiling. There’s seemingly no rhyme or reason to the bar’s overall aesthetic.
“I wanted a bar where you can come in and be a regular and feel comfortable, but also (find) a wide variety of stuff for different tastes,” Kent says.
Kent purchased the building in January and brought on longtime-friend Andy Ahles to act as bar manager and to help with renovations. The bar, with broken pipes and an “ugly exterior and interior,” needed an overhaul, according to Kent.
Ahles partially fell through the floor of a rotting walk-in cooler during the initial walk-through.
It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears, but Kent and Ahles transformed the building in about seven months. The rotting walk-in was replaced with a custom-made cooler shipped from Florida. A smoke eater on the ceiling — a relic from the days when bar patrons could smoke indoors — was replaced with a chandelier.
The bar’s bold color scheme sets the tone. Many of the walls are painted purple to match the Wërd Bar logo and the purple church pews — which Kent purchased on eBay — that rest against the wall.
“How many bars do you go to that utilize purple?” asks Kent.
And while all of the new equipment and the refurnished space are eye catching, it’s the random trinkets scattered about that should keep patrons engaged with the space. They’re bound to notice something new with each visit.
“If I let Drew bring in everything he wanted to, it would look like a rummage sale in here,” Ahles says.
For beer, Kent plans to use only Wisconsin brews, and the beers on tap will change monthly.
“I’m kind of a beer junky, so I try to slowly introduce people to the idea of craft beers and just have fun with it,” Kent says.
Kent’s still working on the signature cocktails, and Ahles is in charge of coming up with quirky drinks that will live up to the Wërd name. For example, he enjoys playing with Ph levels in drinks, so that the colors change slowly after the cocktail is delivered to the customer.
While the bar has no kitchen, Kent plans to incorporate bar snacks and pizzas in the future.
Patrons can test their luck at the bar’s claw machine, which offers the chance to try snatching up ducks — some of them with prize tickets attached to the bottom. Patrons can win a variety of prizes, such as shots, pitchers of beer and Wërd Bar swag.
“We want to make sure (the bar) is comfortable, fun, positive and goofy,” Kent says.
The bar is hosting a grand opening celebration Aug. 10–12. War Pigs Brewing is sponsoring the event, and the first 15 attendees will receive free Wërd Bar hoodies.
Raffles will be held throughout the celebration, and karaoke will help keep guests entertained. Kent plans to continue offering karaoke twice weekly.
To close out the opening weekend, the bar will launch its bloody mary menu Aug. 12, and will raffle off a variety of “really weird” items, along with a normal new TV.
Wërd Bar is Kent’s first business in the service industry, but he’s making a point to incorporate an element of every bar that he’s ever liked into his own establishment. Instead of a sports bar or a live music bar, he’s designed a corner bar for everyone who’s willing to get a little weird.
Wërd Bar is located at 111 W. Howard Ave. Hours of operation are Monday–Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 a.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. For more information on the bar's grand opening event, click here.