Milwaukee bar-hoppers are no longer bound to the pavement. Since the “Paddle Tavern” launched in May, they can cruise the Milwaukee River stopping at various establishments.
And they're doing so in numbers that have proprietors eyeing additional watercraft. There are currently two boats for cruises with two full time captains and seven first mates. However, the Paddle Tavern has had a busy summer thus far, and a future expansion is in the works, manager Redmond Tuttle told TODAY'S TMJ4 partner, the Milwaukee Business Journal.
The boat is equipped with a bar and paddle stations, which consists of bike seats and peddles to power the vessel. However, it isn’t completely up to the riders to keep the boat moving. It has a motor as well.
With weekend slots filling up fast, Tuttle said there may be more Paddle Taverns cruising the river soon.
“We definitely plan to expand,” Tuttle said. “There is huge demand, and we are turning away people on Saturdays.”
Paddle Tavern is looking to get another boat for next year and aim to have four to five in the future.
The idea came into fruition when Notre Dame student and manager Redmond Tuttle saw the Pedal Taverns around the city. Tuttle was curious if the same thing could be done on water.
With a little bit of research Tuttle found that other cities had the same idea. Similar concepts are in Chattanooga, Minnesota and coming soon to Buffalo. Tuttle came across Minnesota’s “Paddle Tap” which hosts a boat-powered pub crawl. This is how Tuttle found Paddle Tavern’s boat manufacturer Cascade Cycle Boats.
Tuttle, who is originally from Milwaukee, thought the city had the perfect setup for a boat-powered pub crawl.
“Milwaukee has the most bars on the river of any city I’ve been to,” Tuttle said.
He spent two years working on the Paddle Tavern and officially started the business in January. During that time he worked on launching the website, finding captains and even started booking tours for the summer.
Owners of the Pedal Tavern, the traveling pub crawl on a quadricycle powered by participants, became aware of the business venture, and the two companies partnered. The two businesses came together because of their similarity, Tuttle said. They work together to coordinate marketing and publicity strategies.
"There so similar everyone associates them anyways," Tuttle said. "It made sense."
The two-hour cruises begin at the Harp Irish Pub at 113 E. Juneau Ave., where the boat is kept. Milwaukee Ale House, Rivalry, Rock Bottom and Lakefront Brewery are popular stops on the tour. Generally, the boat makes one or two stops on a tour, Tuttle said.
For more local business news, visit the Milwaukee Business Journal's website.