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Piano bar tunes up in West Allis, despite recession

Sept. 14, 2009

West Allis — You are not imagining that lovely piano music you hear while wandering Greenfield Avenue in the evening hours.

The sound is coming from 88 Keys Piano Martini Lounge, which opened Sept. 9 at 7211 W. Greenfield Ave. and held a grand opening event three days later.

It is one of three notable new West Allis establishments opening in September, positive signs for the city amidst the economic recession.

For a song, and more

When owners Suzy Ball and Greg Barczak conceived 88 Keys, Ball said they looked at downtown West Allis and thought, why not? Barczak is a West Allis native and has found much success with his Painted Parrot restaurant, 8028 W. National Ave.

Ball believes 88 Keys will attract customers, in part, because of its motto: "the downtown atmosphere without the downtown prices."

"We kind of hope the city is turning a corner and want to make something more of the downtown," Ball said this week.

Open Tuesdays through Saturdays at 4 p.m., 88 Keys serves fine wines, classic cocktails, martinis, gourmet appetizers, pizza and more.

At the window is the piano part of the piano martini lounge. And if the pianist gets too hot and sweaty, no worries - the glass windows rise and open like a garage door, allowing the music to be heard outside and for patrons to get a refreshing breeze.

Inside are comfortable sofas, a glowing bar and upscale, intimate settings unique to West Allis and certainly to Greenfield Avenue.

A new image

88 Keys is exactly the type of business the downtown needs to change its image, said Dianne Eineichner, director of the Downtown Business Improvement District.

Eineichner said she hopes the business will attract a younger crowd to Greenfield Avenue and improve its nightlife options.

"I'm hoping it will bring a change and (people) perceive downtown West Allis as something different, that we do have a lot to offer and that businesses are looking to relocate here," she said.

"This is not just a corner bar. This is an upscale place."

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