By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Oct 24, 2001 at 5:03 AM

Mystery, intrigue and secrecy have always surrounded Milwaukee's most unique bar/restaurant, The Safe House, 779 N. Front St. Given the joint's propensity for spy-like antics, it's no surprise that The Safe House is celebrating its 35th anniversary on Halloween -- Wed., Oct. 31. That's right -- 35 years. Where does the time go?

The party will start at 5 p.m. and run until 1:30 a.m. The bash will include a costume contest (prizes for the most patriotic costume) karaoke and a raffle. The grand prize for the raffle will be free Packers tickets. The bar will have other prizes, including Miller products and wearables, Safe House gift certificates, memberships and clothing.

The Safe House's Anniversary event also benefits charity. The $5 cover at the door will be donated to The September 11th Fund, and $1 from every sale of select Miller products will also be donated.

And why has the Safe House survived so long in this post-Cold War Milwaukee?

"First and foremost is our theme," says DJ Rogan, Safe House bar manager and "Intelligence Officer." "We have always tried to stay with the Cold War spy, James Bond theme. Everything we do stays with that theme. Plus, the building is one of the oldest in Milwaukee, and it sits in an alley thanks to new buildings. That makes the place more interesting. It's hard to find and actually feels like a SafeHouse.

"Even if someone has only been here once or twice, they always recommend it to someone," Rogan continues. "Since we don't advertise, we rely on word of mouth. The people of the city have been out best friend in doing that."

Original owner Dave Baldwin runs the Safe House to this day. A lawyer by trade (even though he never practiced law), Baldwin always had a fascination with James Bond and spies.

"In 1966 Dave and his five partners opened the Safe House as a private club for lawyers," Rogan says. "After one year he bought them out and decided to run the place solo."

As for the future, the Safe House will continue to change in little ways, while it appears to remain the same.


"We are refining our lunch and dinner menus to offer a larger variety for our dining customers," Rogan says. "We are also beginning to host more private parties than we ever have before, but first and foremost, we will be your local bar."

Here are some little known facts about the Safe House:

  • The Safe House has the only pneumatic tube system in Milwaukee used to shake martinis.
  • When the NFL and AFL merged into the NFL, the final meeting was held at the Safe House.
  • When the president is in town, the Secret Service advance team and Air Force One pilots can be found at the bar.
  • The puzzle in one of the back rooms is in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the world's largest mechanical puzzle.

Mick Jagger was once kicked out of the bar for wearing a T-shirt and jeans. At that time the Safe House had a strict dress code and the bartender asked Jagger to leave. Apparently, this really amused Keith Richards, who was meeting Jagger there and knew the dress code.

For more information about the Safe House, visit them at or call them at (414) 271-2007.