Ian Ash of Ian and the
Dream performs at the Thomas Press and Salty Toad stage
during the first evening of Waukesha's Friday Night Live.
Freeman file photo
WAUKESHA - A local bar that’s struggled with its
image may be getting a clientele upgrade, thanks to downtown
weekly music festival Friday Night Live.
Kari Klink, manager of The Salty Toad, said the
bar’s shared Friday Night Live stage with Thomas Press has
brought in a whole new type of customer that probably never
would have checked out the 921 Friedman Drive bar before.
“Things are going great. Our clientele has mainly
been college age, but now this has brought in bands that play
classic rock, which draws a whole new age group to experience
our 21 tappers,” Klink said. “They’re seeing we have friendly
bartenders and that we’re excited to meet new people and be a
part of the downtown area.”
In the past, the Toad has been known for certain
unsavory characters and lots of appearances on the police
blotter. Klink has said that through measures like cracking down
on fake IDs, she and her staff are attempting to improve the
“(During Friday Night Lives) Most people would
park near us and walk right by the bar every Friday,” Klink
said, adding that Thomas Press approached her with the idea to
cosponsor a stage. “We decided to see if we could get the draw
over by us too.”
Klink said the stage has been going extremely
well, thanks to a variety of bands booked by the folks at Thomas
Press. This week the stage will feature the Ricochettes, who
play 1960s hits.
“It’s been really super neat to watch The Salty
Toad become really engaged into the downtown,” said Norm Bruce,
president of the Waukesha Downtown Business Association, which
sponsors Friday Night Live. “It’s really helped them as they’re
working hard to change their image from a bar that had troubles
to a place that’s drawing great groups of people down.”
Bruce said FNL in general has grown in size and
is now bigger than ever, and the crowds are getting younger as
“I see a lot of strollers and a lot of kids that
I’d say are middle school through high school and college ages,”
Bruce said. “They’re all finding something they really like, and
they’re willing to come down and explore.”
Bruce also said by working in events like the
wheelmen lantern ride and Aug. 15’s “Run from the Cops” fun run
event, FNL is drawing in a variety of different types of people
who otherwise might never come downtown.
“And they’re making a weekend of it,” Bruce said.
“We’ll see them at the Farmers Market the next day and they’ll
make plans with friends to go to this restaurant or shop
Friday Night Live runs from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
every Friday until October.
>>Related: Organizers, store owners tout Friday Night Live