I’m writing this from AJ Bombers, a relatively new restaurant (almost 2 years old) in the famous and entrenched Water Street neighborhood of Milwaukee’s downtown. For those of you that don’t know of Water Street, it is the magnificent (half) mile of drinking, and specifically beer. It is usually populated by Marquette University students and tourists who come for Milwaukee’s beer brewing history.
So why would I bother to write about a bar/restaurant? Especially since I despised this neighborhood when growing up here.
AJ Bombers is the mecca of social media. They get it. The owner says that their popularity was built almost entirely on Twitter and Facebook, a fact that the employees love to tout. Plus, they’re unusually friendly and upbeat, which is rare in this neighborhood considering how friendly Wisconsinites are reported to be.
If the World War II bomber theme doesn’t hit you right away, it might be the elaborate peanut dispensing flying bombs with targets along the wall. Or it could be the stenciled phrases on the walls and doors. Or the beer bottles hanging from parachutes above the submarine periscope-like silos of peanuts (spelled p-nuts on the sign.)
The 40″ flat screen displaying the latest tweets and retweets from the owner (@AJBombers) is pretty neat too. But before I even got my award winning (Travel Channel) cheeseburger, the Milwaukee Burger, I found out that I was already second degree friends with half the staff. By the time my drink arrived, I had 3 new followers, all of whom happened to be standing in front of me.
Just take a look at the activity and prowess that AJ Bombers has on social and you can quickly dismiss the more uptight naysayers of social media, if there are any left.
Steve, an employee at AJ Bombers says that they are different because they interact with locals in a personal way before, during and after they come in for burgers and beers. It is well exhibited too, I knew of the place well before moving back to Milwaukee via the Tweetup notifications all being held at the bar/restaurant. It’s not just mantra, it is the way these people operate. Even the bartender is a PR graduate and stated openly she was quite happy working at such a PR savvy place.
Even the wifi network SSID is “DontForgetToCheckInOnFoursquare”. Brilliant.
Most restaurants just blast out specials like ASCII diarrhea but in the parallel universe of social, it seems that being more human, not less, builds business relationships. Not anything new to people on Twitter at all, but it is still rare in the restaurant business.
Congrats, AJ Bombers, you get it. And yes, the Milwaukee burger is worthy of the hype.