First Impression: Gumby’s
Jim Gantner needs no introduction.
...But allow us to gush anyway: During his 17-season big-league career (all spent with the Brewers), the Fond du Lac-born UW-Oshkosh baseball standout established himself as a Milwaukee legend through solid play, a tireless work ethic, and a skill-set complementary to the likes of longtime teammates Robin Yount, Paul Molitor, and Cecil Cooper. Hoping to bank on the inherent likeability of Gantner (nicknamed “Gumby”), his brother-in-law saw fit to open Gumby’s Pub (2151 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., 414-763-4935) in the infielder’s honor. With baseball season just around the corner and Brewers fever in full swing, The A.V Club wasn’t “pokey” in checking out Gumby’s.
The space: The first thing you’ll notice when walking into Gumby’s is—holy shit!—there are a lot of photos of Gantner in here. But as you work your way around the myriad of portraits featuring the Wisconsin folk hero (reprints of pictures from his personal collection), you’ll soon notice something else—Gumby’s is a very small bar. However, the diminutive drink depot makes the most of its limited space, being careful to not clutter its square footage with too many tables. Aside from spatial constraints, the brand new interior and its relaxed atmosphere serve as a well-lit and shimmering bridge between the ever-widening gap of Bay View’s townie bars and its cavern-dark lounges that meticulously try to seem nonchalant.
The service: Walking in, we were immediately privy to a cheerful greeting by Gumby’s owner and bartender, Russ. When we asked about the “Gumby’s Shot” (a house concoction served with a cherry), he, not knowing the reason for our visit, simply said, “Here, have one,” and poured us one on the house. Minutes later, he handed the reins over to the night bartender, Cristina, who kept us company and filled our glasses whenever she wasn’t being called over to shake bar dice with a small but lively pack of day-one regulars.
The A.V. Club’s drinks: Following the light green, sugary, and juice-like house shot (priced at $3), we inquired about the specials. Though the pub’s all day, every day $2 PBR special isn’t exactly uncharted territory, we didn’t hesitate to take advantage of it. After that, we kept things going with a delightfully stiff rocks glass brimming with Wild Turkey and 7-Up ($4.50). Some points were lost in the absence of ginger ale, but Gumby’s isn’t the first bar to fall short in that category.
The verdict: Like Gantner himself, the pub bearing the iconic Brewers namesake won’t exactly blow you away. But over time, it should be seen as a steady Milwaukee contributor worthy of any local acclaim it receives.