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

Black Forest Inn
Location: 814 S. 2nd Street, Milwaukee WI


August 1976
approx. May 1977

Restaurant & Bar



The Black Forest Inn had its grand opening on August 18, 1976 with complimentary champagne and buffet. Owned by two lovers, the business was a high quality restaurant that also had a bar where non-diners could relax and socialize. The decor featured tree trunks and branches, and various memorabilia and collectibles in display cases from the Black Forest region of Europe/ Germany. The first issue of "GLIB News" described it in the article 'Summer Brings New Bars' as follows: "One of the most unique bars in the city, gay or straight, is the Black Forest Inn. The bar is set in a facade of old store fronts right out of the Streets in Old Milwaukee. The Inn also has a restaurant which will be opened for after hours business in mid-August." In the GLIB Guide column of the same issue, the business is described as "Novel idea, bar in the (style of) streets of Old Milwaukee. After hours restaurant. May really catch on as word spreads."

The next/ August 28, 1976 issue of "GLIB News" made an additional mention of the business: "An outdoor carnival with food, drinks and games will be held in the parking lots of Your Place and the Black Forest Inn on Labor Day, Sept. 6. Speaking of the Black Forest, the same held its grand opening on Aug. 18 with champagne flowing."

The restaurant was open for lunches and dinners, advertising its daily hours and Sunday Brunches but with 'Kitchen closed Mondays'. The kitchen was open Friday and Saturdays after hours for late night diners. Ads mentioned 'ample parking'; this was available in the lot next door (to the north). At this time, the parking lots for the Your Place bar and this business were back-to-back on the alley between First and Second streets, both available to LGBT patrons.

While the webmaster has fond memories of the Black Forest's overall ambiance, he recalls it as primarily a restaurant. The bar, in the first room upon entry, was seldom busy as a bar destination; more people had a drink before and after dinner in the bar but primarily visited the business for the food.

The Black Forest didn't last beyond about a year. After opening in August of 1976, their last advertisement ran just nine months later, in May 1977.

This was one of several restaurants/bars to operate in this same building in the 1970s to 1990s. One has to wonder if the location was jinxed, as of the 8 businesses, half closed within a year of opening:

Read a summary of the history of these 8 businesses and their effect on Milwaukee LGBT nitelife written by Project Curator Michail Takach at the Black Forest Legacy page.

First advertisement
(GLIB issue 1, August 1976)
'Spring brings new bars' article
(GLIB issue 1, August 1976)
GLIB Guide listings
(GLIB issue 1, August 1976)
First advertisement
(GPU News, Sept. 1976)
'Wild West Days' 5 big days with live band Saturday
also mentioning "Bob at the organ every Wed. & Sun."
(GPU News, March 1977)
Last known advertisement
(GPU News, May 1977)

The building as it existed in 2004
note parking lot to left
(Photo by Don Schwamb, May 2004)

First Advertisement
(GLIB issue 1, August 1976)

Credits: web site concept, contents, design and arrangement by Don Schwamb.
Last updated: February-2023.

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