The Pfister’s Lobby Lounge: Grand Again

By Michael Horne
Published in Milwaukee Magazine March 1993

In the days of the three martini lunch, Café Ole's Pfister Hotel location and its dungeon-like intimacy made it a respectable hideaway. Sort of. Realizing such sneaking and mid-day sun-sheilding are long obsolete, Pfister management finally has scrapped the brick partitions, wrought iron lamps and dark gloom, of the saloon. Adios.

Now a place for continental breakfast, light lunch and a variety of beverages, the remodeled and renamed Lobby Lounge has been opened up to breathe: it's urbane and airy, separated from the rest of the lobby only by a low fence. The space generally is faithful to the original design of the century-old building and furnished with Empire pieces with occasional Oriental touches, a few sofas and few too many chairs. The color scheme relies on neutral hues and the carpet, although a welcome relief from its purple-and-red predecessor, is busy enough to inspire vertigo.

A delightful fireplace has been uncovered from beneath a ghastly copper hood and restored to its original dignity and warmth. Other signs of the handiwork of the Conrad Schmitt Studios are everywhere, including the gilding and the mural on the lobby's vaulted ceiling. It is worth noting that two of the cherubs there have changed their race during the renovation. There's now another black and another Oriental angel in heaven.

The lounge serves a variety of coffee drinks, Cognacs, cordials and loose leaf teas - the latter a bargain at $2. As is fitting a world-class wannabe, the Pfister now serves afternoon tea in this setting. Somehow, we couldn't imagine Darjeeling and scones at the ol' Café, but the idea seems downright smashing here.



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