Gregg Howard Fitzpatrick was the owner of the 'Harbor Room' bar in Milwaukee from 2000 until his death in 2021.
Gregg legally joined with his long time partner, Eddie Carver, in June 2010. Eddie preceeded Gregg in death when he passed away on June 2021. Gregg's 'Facebook' page thereafter read: "My life partner and husband, Eddie Carver passed away June 3rd, 2021, now its 1 day at a time."
Gregg is believed to have passed away from COVID-19.
Gregg Fitzpatrick recalls his life as follows in a 2009 email to Jamie Taylor:
"I spent most of my life in the restaurant business. My first job after college was with W.T. Grant Company. My first restaurant that I owned was Gregg's Coffee House at 1200 W. State Street, Milwaukee, WI At one time I also owned a Vienna Hot Dog Stand and Miniature Golf range in Oak Lawn, Illinois, called Mr. T's, that's because I could not afford to change the road sign at the time.
For 15 years (1976-1991) I was with the Marcus Corporation as a District Manager, and involved in Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants, Captain Steak Joynt's, Roy Roger's Roast Beef, and Marc's Big Boy Restaurants in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa. The company decided to begin liquidating their restaurant division and I decided to leave in January 1991. By that time my main job was closing locations and letting long time employees go. I worked in Securities the remainder of that year, for Equitable Securities Corporation.
My mother passed away in December 1991 and that shook me. So I took a month long vacation to Berlin and Frankfurt Germany to get my mind off of things. I lived in East Troy, WI adjacent to an establishment that was a dance and polka ballroom known as The Frontier Ballroom. The owners were fighting and in serious financial jeopardy. My Dad (who was only 80 then) and I purchased this building in June of 1992 and opened and operated as Fitzpatrick's Crystal Inn. I sold that establishment after adding kitchen facilities and turning it into a supper club in addition to dancing. I sold November 12, 1998.
Sometime in 1999, I joined in business with Michael Petri of the 1100 Club, at 1100 S. First Street, Milwaukee, WI. After about 9 or 10 months I was acutely aware that this partnership would not be of lasting value and informed Mike Petri that I was leaving the partnership. At the time I was good friends with a Mick (Myron) Engebritson, who had unrealistic dreams of going into business."
I began looking for an establishment of my own in the somewhat downtown areas of Milwaukee. Very little was for sale. I settled on the former Mamma Roux's location. Not once, not twice but three times. It was owned by an attorney. No matter how many times we came to closing, difficulties arose between me and him and I would walk away from the table, ending that saga."
Because of my time at 1100 Club, I was often sitting at the stop light of S.1st Street and Greenfield Avenue. My curiosity was peaked that I had never ever seen the place called Club 117 ever open. It became a game to try to catch the place open, until one day I had noticed the mail box in the rear of the building was over stuffed and the contents of the building were gone. I copied the names of the people whose names appeared on the vast amount of mail, then went home and Googled each of them and if lucky I tried to contact them. One of them was FM Investments, who turned out to be Arthur E. Friedman."
See the full story of Gregg's pursuit, and eventual ownership, of the bar that was to be The Harbor Room at the Harbor Room page.
2020 was a year of celebration and crisis for Harbor Room. As the bar prepared for its 20th anniversary celebration, the COVID pandemic shut down all bars for months. Then tragedy struck in June 2021 when Gregg's husband Eddie Carver passed away. Gregg struggled with a broken heart but vowed to take one day at a time.
Six months later, Gregg became extremely sick and was hospitalized. His last Facebook post, from his hospital bed, earned hundreds of comments of support. Sadly, he passed away the next day.
Gregg's Obituary appeared in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel online on Decemnber 14, 2021, reading:
Gregg Howard Fitzpatrick
Found peace and joined his beloved husband Edwin E. Carver-Fitzpatrick on Sunday, December 12, 2021 at the age of 69 years. Gregg was preceded in death by his parents Howard and Ruth and his sister Sharon. He is survived by other relatives and many, many friends.
Visitation on Monday, December 20, 2021 at the Schmidt & Bartelt Funeral Home from 4 PM until 7 PM. Funeral Service will be held on Tuesday, December 21, 2021 at 9:30 AM at Emanuel United Church of Christ, 10627 W. Forest Home Ave. in Hales Corners. Entombment to follow at Pinelawn Memorial Park. In lieu of flowers, memorials to BESTD Clinic or Holton Street Clinic appreciated. Greg and Eddie were proprietors of the Harbor Room for 21 years. His legacy will live on.
With both Gregg and Eddie gone, many worried that his legacy -- the Harbor Room -- would soon be lost as well. Milwaukee has lost many gay bars in the 21st century, and the pandemic tested the resilience of the surviving few. However, Harbor Room has seen a resurgence under new ownership and the ongoing development of the Harbor District.
"Gregg was an incredible man who became a friend, mentor and family," said Brian Kohler, current owner of Harbor Room. "He changed my life -- and many other lives -- forever." Thank you, Gregg, for everything.
Credits: Bulk of information collected b Jamie Taylor;
Additional info and primary photo (taken on patio of Harbor Room) from Michail Takach.
Website concept, design and arrangement by Don Schwamb.
Last updated: January-2024.
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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.