History of Gay and Lesbian Life in Milwaukee, Wisconsin - Businesses - Restaurants

Belmont Hotel Coffee Shop
Location: 751 N. 4th Street, Milwaukee



Coffee Shop



The Belmont Hotel Coffee Shop, while not strictly 'gay', was listed in national Gay Guides-- sometimes as "after hours coffee place", other times simply as "Mixed". The hotel was built in 1926 on the corner of Wells and 4th, with the hotel fronting on Wells St. and the Coffee Shop on the 4th Street side; the building was razed in 1996. The period during which the hotel bar or coffee shop was considered a 'gay hangout' is believed to be from the mid-1940's until at least 1971.

The hotel was right next door to 735 N. 6th Street, the site of first Sally's Cocktail Bar and then The Gaytime Bar- both notorious as gay hangouts. (See those bar pages for details.)

Per historian Michail Takach, The Gaytime bar next door closed in June 1968 after a violent shootout and attempted robbery. That building was razed in December 1968 for surface parking. By 1996, that small surface parking lot had grown to encompass almost two entire city blocks from 4th to 6th, from Wisconsin to Wells -- leaving only the Belmont Hotel left in a massive sea of concrete. It's almost impossible to imagine a time when these were dense city blocks packed with life. Today, it's the east end of the Wisconsin Center.

(As shown below, while the next-door Gaytime Bar was listed in nearly every national Gay Bar Guides only from about 1965 to 1967, the Belmont Hotel Coffee Shop was listed only off and on in national gay guides, until at least 1971.)


Listings in early "Gay Guides":
(For more information on the Guides, click here.)

1963, Lavendar Baedeker
  History of the Baedeker Guides   Index
Notes: Listed as 'Hotel Belmont Restaurant'
1964, "Directory 43"
  Title Page   Introduction
Notes: Listed as 'Hotel Belmont Restaurant'
1968 Bob Damron's Address Book
    Title pg   Editors note   Codes
Notes: Listed as 'Belmont Hotel Coffee Shop''
1970 Bob Damron's Address Book
Notes: Listed as 'Belmont Hotel Coffee Shop''
1971 Bob Damron's Address Book
    Title pg   Codes
Notes: Listed as 'Belmont Hotel Coffee Shop''

Photo of Belmont Hotel (Coffee Shop at left)
(photo from Pintrest, unknown date or attribution)

Photo of Coffee Shop sign
(photo from Reddit, unknown date or attribution)

Matchbook from Belmont Hotel (note "Milwaukee's Most Popular Coffee Shop')
(photo from eBay, unknown date or attribution)

Credits: web site concept, contents, design and arrangement by Don Schwamb.
National gay guide research by Don Schwamb.
Gaytime Bar history by Michail Takach.
Last updated: June-2021.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.