History of Gay and Lesbian Life in Wisconsin - Businesses - Bars and Clubs

Factory "3"
Location: 511 N. Broadway, Milwaukee WI


November 4, 1986
March 29, 1987

Male/ female
Bar/ social



This is the 3rd bar by the name "Factory" opened by Chuck Cicirello. Located in a downtown warehouse building on a historic block, with 6,000 square feet of space, the bar had high ceilings excellent for disco lighting. The bar made an excellent venue for shows, with a large stage, plenty of seating, and excellent lighting and sound system.

This bar was located in the same building as the Papagaio bar (1981-August 1987), which used the address 515 N. Broadway.

    The first "Factory" was located in an old manufacturing/ warehouse building, with a large wide-open space for the bar and a large dancefloor, and high ceilings. Opened just before the disco craze, it was perfectly positioned to be Milwaukee's disco palace. It reined for 10 years. Chuck's next bar was called "Factory II"- but it was not as well received. Factory II was housed in a smaller building, with lower ceiling. Although somewhat popular, it never had the same appeal, or the ability to attract the same types of crowds- and Factory II closed in a little less than 2 years.

This Factory, the 3rd incarnation, was an excellent attempt to get back to the original concept. Advertising used phrases such as "Milwaukee hasn't been the same since the original (Factory) closed", and "The return of the Big Bar", and touted the high ceilings, wide open spaces, and large footprint (over 6,000 square feet). It also advertised again simply as "Factory".

Although briefly popular, largely by patrons who remembered the original Factory bar a few blocks south, as well as for its show, the bar didn't retain its appeal compared to the popular La Cage dance club, located farther south. For some, the parking problems this close to downtown was one issue. The high overhead also was a problem, as there were too few customers on weeknights to cover overhead. More seriously, the building was up for sale by the owners, and they wanted to move "Club New York", a bar upstairs, to have the main floor space- forcing the Factory 3 out.

The history of all three "The Factory" bars, and Chuck Cicirello, was published on the OnMilwaukee.com website in 2024.

Photos from Opening night, Nov. 1986
(InStep vol 3-22, Nov. 1986)
Photos from Opening night, Nov. 1986
(InStep vol 3-22, Nov. 1986)
Steppin Out- article about Opening Night
(InStep vol 3-22, Nov. 1986)
Photos- Menergy dancers show, 1986
(InStep vol 3-24, Dec. 1986)
Photos- Fest City Singers performance, 1986
(InStep vol 3-24, Dec. 1986)
Advertisement, February 1987

The building in 1985 as 'Papagaio' bar
(photo courtesy Wisconsin Historical Society)

Opening advertisement
(InStep vol 3-20, Oct. 1986)

Opening information
(InStep vol 3-20, Oct. 1986)

Advertisement, "History repeats itself"
(InStep vol 3-21, Oct. 1986)

Advertisement: Our Philosophy
(InStep vol 3-22, Nov. 1986)

'Steppin Out' column: Closing
(InStep vol 4-05, April 1987)

Building in 1975 (on far left), before buildings to its right (north) side were demolished- for a parking lot
(photo courtesy Wisconsin Historical Society)

Credits: web site concept, design and contents by Don Schwamb;
Bar history by Don Schwamb.
Last updated: March-2024.

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