"Shadows II- The Top Shelf" opened on December 11, 1987 in the site of the old Hot Legs bar, operated by Dan Hewett who, along with Matt, was co-owner of the bar. (This was presumably Matthew Gorden, who reportedly owned the building at the time.)
(In a case of deja vu, this same establishment had, previously to Hot Legs, been named Shadows aka Shadows/ Diplomat.)
According to a news article at the time, the decor at Shadows II was "quietly Art Deco with a color scheme of soft pinks, maroons and mauves accented by gentle tones of gray. The lighting is easy on the eyes, sufficient, yet with the right touch of intimacy that is heightened by the lush, thick carpet on the floor." The bar also had a great sound system. The article continues: the bartenders are "goodlooking in gray and maroon and your beer comes in long-stemmed goblets befitting the theme of elegance."
Grand Opening was around Valentine's Day, 1988, but before that, the bar hosted a Christmas dinner free to people "who have nowhere to go" (with a suggestion of a donation to MAP).
In addition to birthday parties and similar events, the bar/ restaurant also hosted meetings, such as those for BWMT/ Black and White Men Together. In mid-1989 business looked up for a time, as the 'Your Place' bar, across the alley from this location, closed, and many of that bar's staff came to work at Shadows II. But after a few months the "Y.P." reopened after some redecorating, and business at Shadows II didn't recover.
The bar closed suddenly after just less than two years. It is last listed in the Bar Guide of In Step magazine vol. 6-15 (August 1989).
This was neither the first nor last LGBT business at this location, many lasting less than a year:
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.
Credits: web site concept, contents, design and arrangement by Don Schwamb.
Last updated: March-2023.
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