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Originally opened as Za's (on Bodart Way) by Mark 'Za' Mariucci (who went on to open several other bars as well, and also founded and ran 'Quest' magazine, a Wisconsin LGBT periodical for 25 years), along with Ken Kujava, in mid-1991 the two moved the business to Main Street and renamed it simply Za's.
When they moved in, the building was a shell and had to be completely re-done over the summer of 1991. The business was divided into two separate bars: ZA's Video Bar (the dance bar), and JAVA's (a lounge).
For a decade the bar was extremely popular with the Northeast Wisconsin LGBT community, hosting many events. (See Images page link above.)
In July 1998, a restaurant, Cafe Bourbon, opened in the other half of the same building, with ads saying "located within Za's". (A connecting door to the Cafe was inside Za's, but the Cafe also had a door to the outside.)
(Note that the business celebrated its Anniversary based on the anniversary on which the original Za's (on Bodart) opened in July 1989.)
In April 2000, co-owner Ken Kujava died unexpectedly, and co-owner Mark 'Za' Mariucci was unable to reach an amicable settlement with Ken's estate. Za's bar and Quest magazine were forced to relocate by the end of 2000. Mariucci acquired the historic West Theatre on Walnut Street and began work in October 2000 to move Za's there. Za's on Main was forced to close before the new location was open-- but Mariucci opened Za's Historical West Theatre, in February 2001.
The bar at 1106 Main Street remained vacant for about 3 years-- but was reopened in 2003 by new owners as XS.
On Thursday, July 23, 2009, the other original co-owner, 'Za' (Mark Mariucci) joined DJ Carl in the XS DJ booth (the bar that succeeded Za's) to spin customers back in time with some of the music video clips that made them famous at the two Za's bars. Drag cameo performers were also there, as well as a few surprises, to celebrate a legend known as Za's.
The history of LGBT bars in Northeastern Wisconsin was the subject of an excellent article in the Green Bay Press Gazette in 2020.
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Credits: Information of bar's origins by NE Wisconsin LGBT History Project,
Paul "Cricket" Jacob,
with additional information gathered by The Project.
Web site concept, design and arrangement by Don Schwamb.
Last updated: July-2021.
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.