Salty Toad manager: Friday Night Live helps improve clientele
Organizer: Weekly music festival doing better than ever

By Sarah Pryor - Freeman Staff

July 30, 2014

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 bar’s image.

“(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 well.

“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 downtown.”

Friday Night Live runs from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. every Friday until October.

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