Waukesha's Clarke Hotel will soon tap into its new Irish bar

Chris Kuhagen
The Clarke Hotel recently got a makeover as new flower boxes were installed for the second and third floors. Dennis Radtke, director of operations for Harp & Eagle Ltd., which owns The Clarke Hotel, said the bar at the hotel is scheduled to open within the next couple of weeks and the restaurant could open within the next month.
Published on: 8/4/2014

Dennis Radtke will soon have to clean the window outside The Clarke Hotel in downtown Waukesha.

"The nose prints are increasing from all of the window peaking," said Radtke, who is the director of operations for Harp & Eagle Ltd., which purchased The Clarke Hotel in May for $1 million.

Radtke is OK with a little streaky window outside the bar and restaurant at The Clarke Hotel, 314 W. Main St., because it shows the interest in the activity that's going on inside.

Soon, the doors to the bar and restaurant will open, something that hasn't happened in almost three years. Radtke said last week that the bar should be open later this month after some of the final orders come in, including the tap system.

He didn't want to set an exact date of when the bar would open but said it will most likely open before the restaurant opens. The restaurant is likely to open within the next month after all the final pieces of equipment are delivered, such as the tables.

"We're making great progress," Radtke said. "Slowly, but surely, we'll be open."

Irish brew

Radtke has been at the downtown Waukesha site this summer renovating the bar and restaurant, which is undergoing a complete makeover. He's transforming the former upscale dining restaurant to an Irish-style pub, which will sport a new paint job and new furnishings.

Radtke said it will resemble County Clare Irish Inn & Pub on Milwaukee's east side. The chef from County Clare will oversee the kitchen at The Clarke Hotel, Radtke said.

Radtke said there are no immediate plans to change anything to the hotel rooms, with the exception of some minor decorative changes. But that will come later.

For now, his focus is on the bar and restaurant and getting people on the inside.

"We don't want to open before everything is completely ready, because we want to do it right," said Radtke, whose company operates many Irish-themed boutique hotels and restaurants in the state. "Everyone's been hands on, because we're excited to be here."

Meanwhile, he is still accepting applications for servers and cooks at the restaurant.

While the 20-room boutique-style hotel has remained open throughout the transition, the restaurant and bar has struggled since the hotel opened in late 2008. The Black Trumpet restaurant closed two years after opening. D Mo's Italian Pasta and Chop House opened shortly thereafter, but it closed in 2011.

Careful touches

Radtke said he wants to bring a fresh perspective to the entire operation, including an effort to make the hotel more attractive, inside and out.

To that end, Radtke, along with David Smart, the hotel's general manager, recently replanted the flower boxes on the second and third floors of the hotel.

"It's been a team effort," said Radtke, who added he will make sure the flower boxes are full every year. "It brought life to the outside."