Long before everyone had Google in their pockets there was this SMS feature called Cha-Cha. Those reading this are (presumably) old enough to drink, and so probably lived in the era when brick was a type of phone and dial-up was awesome because it was the Internet. So you may remember it. If not, it was a pretty straightforward thing. You text a question to Cha-Cha, and, like magic (or any app running today), it sends you the answer.
Well, surprisingly Cha-Cha isn’t dead. It’s alive on the Internet. So obviously I wasted little time in typing out, “What is the worst bar in Milwaukee?” I’ll give you a hint: It’s the title of this article.
What Cha-Cha did, for this particular question, was compile the user ratings and reviews for bars from a website called Citysearch, and then compared those against each other, spitting out the lowest one as the answer. Unfortunately for The Harp Irish Pub (113 E. Juneau Ave.), they’re at the bottom.
The unfair bit here is that Citysearch only has four reviews for The Harp, two of which are terrible, which drag it down to its current three-star rating.
And here’s the shit-kicker for establishments: This generation, my generation, the generation that was raised on bricks and dial-up Internet, never stops at one website. We “browse” with 15 tabs. We Google with quotes, with plusses and minuses. We know what websites matter, and more importantly, we know which ones don’t. And we are very, very good at it. So, to Google I went, to get to the bottom of the “worst bar in Milwaukee.”
Twenty-five keystrokes and one enter button later, and at the very top of the list is The Harp Irish Pub, followed directly by a compilation that Google has made of the three top websites for reviews, combined for a rating. That rating? Three stars. Couple this with the fact that the amount of raters (27 for The Harp) matters almost as much as the score and this drops it down even lower in our collective consciousness.
Hm. The collective consciousness seems to agree with Cha-Cha. So, there’s only one source left: The primary one. Off I went (always a good day when work involves research at bars).
Let me tell you something straight up. The Harp is awesome. People are wrong.
Resting right on the river, it’s one of the best patio bars in Milwaukee (a far cry from what reviewers online were saying). Inside is quaint. Good solid booths, two bars that look to be stocked well, with solid wood bar-tops. A stained glass window in the front filters colored light in, creating one of the more ethereal atmospheres in Milwaukee (I’ll try to let my pictures do most of the talking for this part). Also, every person on the staff I met is exceptionally nice, and the drinks are great. The only drawback I can see is the bridge/road running right above the patio. And regardless of that, I’ll still be bringing everyone I know to the place, because it’s just that good.
How is this bar rated so terribly, when it clearly is so rocking? For that, I have no idea (but I did expect more of you, drinkers of Milwaukee who rate bars).
And so we get to the moral of this bar tale, and although this review might seem a bit pedantic, a bit professorial in detail, I’m coming round to the point (I promise, just stick with me…we’re having fun, right?).
Up until now bars could suffer under a dictatorial grey-beard; some staunch conservative opposed to change (because change is frightening and will cause destruction of values…obviously!).
But you’re saying, “Michael, change isn’t required for bars, idiot!” And that’s true, lots of great bars remain unchanged for their entire life-spans, and do great because of that single fact. But the marketing management does. The Internet profile that’s being created and generated, whether the bar knows it or not, is now the directing force behind the patrons that are coming through the door. When searching for these places it now comes up, whether asked or not. It’s how the youth shops. It’s the new snafu behind all consumerism, forcing change at key-point. If you don’t believe me, look to The Harp, which is now relegated to the bowels of bar-dom in this city, and from only two reviews! Something that, if the proprietors of The Harp know about, could easily change with a few choice reviews of their own (side note: I will not sit idly by and let a perfectly good bar get dragged through the Internet-mud, and so have already posted a glowing review for the place, besides this one…You’re welcome, Harp!).
And so this creates the hard line, which has been drawn in the clouds; drawn, for some time now, across circuit boards and through cables, against the pages of Facebook and Google, and is coming to rest atop the doorsteps of establishments. And whether they like it or not is beside the point. They have to change.
If not, they’ll be forced out, one keystroke at a time, one review at a time; because the youth has arrived at the drinking age, and we’ve all brought smartphones.
Like this bar? Hate this bar? Think you know someplace better (or worse)? Let me know in the comments section if you’re not shy. If you are too shy, contact me by clicking my name at the top of the article, or find me on Facebook, Twitter, (and for the really cool) Google Plus. Reader beware: I might not like the bar as much as you, and may express my opinions as such.