Monday, July 14, 2008

Frenchy's Restaurant, Milwaukee

From Ford Times Cookbook, Volume 5, a listing for Frenchy's, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on 1901 East North Avenue, describes a rather swank French and American restaurant, reservations required, owned by Paul LaPointe. It says they serve game in season. The illustration shows formally dressed diners in a dark paneled interior with red glass chandeliers. The waitresses are wearing French maid uniforms, short skirts, with big white bows on the back.

Now at that location is Beans & Barley, one of Milwaukee's most popular eating spots and meeting place. There is also a deli and natural foods grocery. Reservations are not necessary, maybe not even possible, but at peak breakfast, lunch, and dinner times expect to wait. I'm not sure what year Frenchy's closed and Beans & Barley opened, or if there was something different there in-between, but at one point early in B & B's history a fire almost completely destroyed the building. When it was rebuilt it bore little resemblance to the old structure. It's now modern, open, and airy, and quite comfortable as a dining spot. Diners and wait staff dress casually, and you're not likely to see a French maid uniform except on Halloween.

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

Paul La Pointe was my father, and I spen many a fine night at Frenchy's and the Bulldog Pub below. If you would like a flavor of what it was like, Google on "Red Feather" and "Cafe Society". You will pick up a rare recording of the Red Feather Trio (and some other famous jazz muscicians of the 40's) who used to play at Frenchy's. It will gaive you a feel for the place.

The fire happened long after my father had sold the restaurant to some doctors whothought it would be a nice hobby to own a restaurant. They ran it into the ground in a few short years. Too bad.

Paul La Pointe

Anonymous said...

Reggie modestly fails to mention that Frenchy's was the finest and probably most expensive restaurant in Milwaukee when his dad owned it. Mr. LaPointe used to work the dining room, greeting friends and classmates of his children.

I thought the Bulldog Pub came later, perhaps after the family sold the original restaurant, but that's a long time ago.

Mike MUS '70

millman26 said...

Paul La point was my great grandfather.All I know about him is that He was able to turn his back on his daughter Margo and his grandchildren Not a very nice guy.Where were the La Points when my mother and aunt were sent to the orphanage ? Eating some fine french cuisine with his snobby friends?

millman26 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I just found, in an old box of memories, a complete menu from Frenchy's dating from 1958 or 1959! Brings back memories of fine dining. African Hippopotamus @$8.75or Deep South Raccon @6.25 or a Filet Mignon Louis XV @$6.75 among a zillion other entrees!

Dori said...

Wow! This brings back great memories. I was a live-in babysitter for Reggie and Paulette one summer when I was about 15 yrs old. The family was fantastic to me. Paulette was 4 yrs old and Reggie was 18 months old. It would be great to visit with them again.
Dori (Meyer) Hertzberg

Anonymous said...

Dori,

Although my memory is good, it was about 55 years ago or so that I was 18 months old, and I don't remember much from that time. I'd love to hear from you. You can reach me at plapointe@golder.com. For millman26, who must be one of Margot's grandchildren, there is more to this story than you have heard.

Reggie aka Paul R. La Pointe

emily davis said...

My parents grew up in Milwaukee. They always talk about their favorite restaurant Frenchy's! They say that there has never been another place like it! They used to go when they were a young couple and first married. They have their 50th anniversary in August. Do you think it would be possible to send a copy of the menu or copies of any pictures you have of the restaurant. It would bring back so many memories for them.

Anonymous said...

I used to work for Town Meats, a purveyor, when I was in high school back between 1966-1971. I delivered to Frenchy's and knew Paul LaPointe a little bit. One time when I was delivering some meat into the walkin cooler there was an entire zebra and a male lion (maine and all) hanging in the cooler. I have told lots of my buddies about this and they all say I'm crazy. I would really appreciate it if anyone could post or send me an old menu so I could prove to my buddies that they really did serve those types of entries on their menu.

dadlivonia said...

I ate at Frenchy's nearly 40 years ago and all I remember is that the food and service was great and he had the best scotch collection I have ever encountered in any restaurant in America. I have thought about it many times over the years. The manager gave a 24 year old a lesson in fine whisky that I never forgot.

Judson said...

After reading your blog, i think that mliwaukee is most popular eating spots and most beautiful meeting place and there is also a deli and natural foods grocery.

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Milwaukee SEO Company

Lori said...

I never had the opportunity to dine at Frenchy's, however, my grandfather, John Riegler (sr.), was the chef, for many years, and my father, also John Riegler (jr.), also spent time cooking in the kitchen. I have very limited knowledge of the establishment, other than a menu and matchbook, and I would very much like to connect with those who have history with the restaurant, and would like to share their stories. Please contact me, I would love to hear from you - loririegler@mac.com

Anonymous said...

I am fascinated by these Posts. I have had the pleasure of meeting Mrs Paul Lapointe, (Gladys). She is so sweet and kind and at almost 100 (97) I am amazed at her youthfulness.

I have heard her story over the last few days, and looked up Frenchy's and all of your blog's just added to the history.

Gladys says hello to all her friends out there and hopes to come home soon.

:-)

Anonymous said...

Frenchy's was my favorite restaurant. The food and presentation were wonderful. On a weekend the wait was long, but worth it. I've always wanted the recipe for the antipasta (tomato base with seafood, olives, mushrooms, etc) from the appetizer cart. Is there a place to find some of Frenchy's recipes?

Anonymous said...

Great post! I think I remember my folks talking about this place.

To the guy asking about a menu...after reading this post I ran across someone on ebay selling a Frenchy's menu. It super expensive but on the images, they show wild African Lion as one of the items. The prices are crazy!

http://cgi.ebay.com/Frenchys-Wild-Game-Menu-Bear-Lion-Raccoon-Milwaukee-WI-/200530963093

Anonymous said...

My uncle, Carl Ziegler, was also a chef at Frenchy's. I remember his picture being take with a lion. He and my aunt took my parents and me to Frenchy's to eat-must have been around 1958. I have never seen a restaurant since then as lovely as it was. I am sorry it is gone.

Anonymous said...

To the person whose uncle was Carl Ziegler, man could he cook! One of the things he used to make for us was his own special recipe for fried chicken. It wasn't on the menu, just something he'd whip up for my dad (Paul La Pointe/Frenchy). Carl would make up a batch for Sunday and we'd eat it while watching the Packers' game on TV.

Paul La Pointe

Anonymous said...

While a student at Marqueette Univ. in 1953/54, my parents and I dined at Frenchy's. I loved the frog legs. Were we in a cubby all our own? And one waiter constantly seeing to our every wish? I still have my giant Frency's match book... all 11 matches unused. "AAA" & "Recommended by Duncan Hines." On the inside: Gourmet... PHEASANT, SWORDFISH, Maine LOBSTER, FROG LEGS, BAKED POMPANO EN PAPILLOTTE, COQUILLES SAINT JACQUES, BROOK TROUT, RED SNAPPER, SAUTEED ABALONE STEAK, TOURNEDOS OF BEEF EN BROCHETTE, WILD GAME DINNERS IN SEASON. A excellent place still remembered by an Iowa gal.

Paul La Pointe said...

I've got many, many pictures of Frenchy's, the Bulldog Pub,the Fleur de Lis, the Pink Pig and East Town, and my father's last restaurant, Paul's Small Cafe that I would love to post. I am not sure how to do so on thispage, but maybe I can put them on another site and post the link. Stay tuned...

I'll post a couple of recipes as well.

Anonymous said...

Mrs. La Pointe, Twinkie (aka Gladys) was my father's first cousin, Charles Werner. He was from Milwaukee but moved to Atlanta in 1938. He kept our summer home at Elkhart Lake and we would come up every summer and of course would go to Frenchy's when we came into Milwaukee to see my cousin's Reggie and Paulette. I was always in "awe" when I walked into the door of Frenchy's. It is a place you can never forget.
Patsy Werner Sutton

Denise said...

So happy I found this blog. I was a waitress at Frenchys from 1970 (when I turned 21) to 1973 (when I married and moved out of state) I started out in the Bull Dog Pub and was the only waitress Frenchy promoted after 6 months to the upstairs dining room. That was a great honor. The staff was very long term. Waitresses rarely left. Training was extensive since we prepared Ceasar Salads at the table, pepper steak flambee, bananas flambee, crepes suzette and many more items. The job was considered the best in food service in Milwaukee. We made VERY good money at the time. On any given day my regular request clients would be on the reservation book and when I married several of them sent me Waterford Crystal, Silver service and other lovely gifts I treasure to this day. They were classy people for sure that appreciated attentive service.

Frenchy was a very kind man to work for. When he heard I never was at a professional football game he allowed me select from his season tickets for me and my fiancee to attend. He also came to the Alpine Village for our wedding.
Over the years I worked there many celebrities and sport stars were in the restaurant and I frequently had the opportunity to take care of them. The opera boxes were the most popular tables in the restaurant.

I have such fond memories of the years I worked there! I also have a menu in my possession.

I went on to becoming an RN and have recently retired and live with my husband at The Villages FL.
I can be reached at seacruiser@hotmail.com

Denise

Joseph said...

Great Thread,I played at the Bulldog Pub in August, 1972. It was "THE" place to be. Paul was the most gracious and classiest owner that I ever worked for. We were a last minute substitute for the previously booked band who broke up the night before.
We got a call from our agent around 3:30PM informing us of the gig. We were a band from Chicago and by the time we rounded everyone up (there were no cell phones in 1972)we headed up the Interstate. Our agent told us that the owner was expecting us to be late, so be safe and get there in one piece.
As soon as we pulled up, Paul greeted us in the parking lot and reassured us to take our time, no big deal. After we got set up, we were ready to start and he called us over to a table and ordered a round of drinks for us. We chatted for about 15 mins before we went up to play and he took orders for food because he knew that we didn't have time to stop and eat. After our first set, our food was served and we chatted a little longer.
Since we were a rock band, we didn't have "uniforms" so Paul gave us an extra $500 to buy some outfits. He also gave us a raise so we could get a hotel in Milwaukee, instead of commuting back and forth to Chicago, even though it was only 90 mins.
Well, we got some very hip threads for the money and had several looks. At the end of the week, after having packed the place, he told us that he wanted to book us for Christmas and New Years weeks, the busiest weeks of the year.
Unfortunately, the band didn't last that long, but we will never forget the kindness and hospitality of Mr. Paul La Pointe.

The name of the band was North Street. And 3 of us are still in touch some 40 years later, even though we live in different cities, we often reminisce about our week at Frenchy's Bulldog Pub.

Joe Parisi - Philadelphia, PA

Anonymous said...

I ate at Frenchy's with my father in the 60's. Priests from Marquette were there. My father traveled that area to sell dresses to local boutiques. He was a great salesman & gourment. I ate roast duck. Back then they served the whole duck & I ate all of it. Great meal

Anonymous said...

During my four years of college at UWM, I was a busboy at the old place, and then later bartender at both Frenchy's ( upstairs ) and the lower level Bull Dog Pub. I learned as much working for Frenchy as anyone I've ever worked for. The years were 1967-1972.I just retired after 40 plus years of selling Truck-Trailers, and I stil think of that place often. Yes, the food was that good, but more importantly, the place was fun, and it absolutely was the place to be -- period !
Hope someone posts some more pictures,it'd be fun.
Dennis

Anonymous said...

Around the years of mid-fifties, my Parent's often dined at this elegant Restaurant. I remember my Mother would dress up in her most beautiful outfits and her best jewelry. I thought she was a princess. Occasionally, my Parents would take my Brother and Me along to celebrate special occasions. I must have been 10 years old when my Mom had her 40th birthday. Since my Dad was well known at this place, the red carpet was rolled out and nothing was too good for our family. What a memorial event! It seemed that many of the patrons were acquainted with my parents, and they all wanted to buy my Mother a drink. By the end of the evening, Mom was under the table
and had to be helped to the car. I had never seen her in her cups, so I was shocked. The restaurant itself was so fabulous, and I was treated like a little princess. I was given my first Shirley Temple, and the owners came over to make much to do about what a little lady I was. I did feel like a celebrity, my 15 minutes of fame. I still have my Father's metal charge card, Preferred Credit at the top with a fleur de les followed by a very fancy Frenchy's beneath. A small Milwuakee under that and then-- For Carl G. Crantz, probably one of the first type of credit cards that has gotten us in trouble many a time. Thank you for bringing back a truly memorial experience. Cynthia Crantz Walker

Paul La Pointe said...

22It's October 19th, 2012. It would have been my father's 104th birthday on Oct. 17th. It is truly wonderful to read all of the posts that I had not seen before describing working at the restaurant or eating there. It truly was a fun place with good food and entertainment. I think what made it work is that my father, Paul La Pointe ("Frenchy"), really loved what he did, and so he put his heart and soul into the place. It is probably true with anything that you do in life; if you love what you are doing, everyone enjoys being around you and being part of what it is that you do.

I have a few of the old recipes. One that many people enjoyed was the antipasto recipe. I'll post that soon.

Paul La Pointe

Denise said...

Paul, Good to see you post. I also have some great photos I would like to share. If you email me I can send them or I like the thought of finding a site where we can share them.

Denise

seacruiser@hotmail.com

Nancy-Boehlein-Boutilier said...

I, too, was fortunate to have dined at the fabulous Frechy's with my former husband and many times his clients and our friends. I had my first "Pimm's cup" drink which was a unique drink and there were had different recipes and tastes. I recently acquired one of the fabulous mirrors which hung in the restaurant. We placed it above the fireplace and it makes a statement as people enter the room and I proudly tell them where it originally came from. To be clear, we purchased the mirror from another restaurantur who had purchased it when Franchy's closed. It is a treasure.

Anonymous said...

Hi Paul,
I am sure you don't remember me but we were 3rd grade classmates in Mrs. Albrecht's classroom at MUS. My mom, Helga Ljubic (now Smith) was a waitress at Frenchy's for years. To this day she blames having to carry those heavy trays up and down the stairs for her back problems.
But as someone else noted, waitresses earned well and in my mom's case, enough to allow me to sit in the same classroom with her boss's son.
Anyway, I am glad I came across this blog and just wanted today Hi.

Peter Ljubic

Dennis said...

Speaking of the lion -
The process was, Frenchy had a standing order for a certain number of lions every year. They were shipped when they became available, and you never knew when that would be. They arrived whole, probably gutted, but with hide and head intact and were butchered on site. The animals were stored frozen in a downstairs cooler.
So, the joke was always to send a 'new guy' busboy down to the cooler for something and watch the reaction.
So, sure enough one year it was my turn, and they had the lion set up on a saw horse facing the door. So they sent me down there to get some butter,and I opened the door to the unlit freezer and there staring at me is a lion !!
I let outa pretty good gulp, and then slammed the door as fast as I could.
It got a laugh!
Dennis

Anonymous said...

Peter Ljubic

Peter,

Good to hear from you after all these years! I remember football in grade school, when Jeff Herbon was the team captain, I was the quarterback, and you were the star running back. We used to feed you the ball on about every other play, and you blasted through the lines. If you, or anyone else, would like to contact me about Frenchy's or the Bulldog Pub, please email me at paul_la_pointe@yahoo.com.

Nancy, I am glad that you have one of the mirrors. I have one too, and it hangs on the wall over my piano in the living room (also glad to hear that you came by it legally!).

Anyone know a former Bulldog bartender by the name of Hank DeWitt? I ran into him a few years ago down in Texas. He bartended at the Bulldog in the mid-70's. I know he'd enjoy hearing from anyone he might have worked with.

Paul La Pointe

Tim said...

Tim said....I knew about Frenchy's while still in high school in Milwaukee, by reputation for exotic meats, swanky uniforms, and a location I passed by several times a week while at UW-M.

In 1966,I was on the Homecoming Court and the eight of us dined at Frenchy's after the ceremonies that Saturday in November. Needless to say, we had a ball, and YES, they DID serve Lion, as three of us had it. Later on, when bartending on the Eastside, I met Mr. LaPointe, a fine fellow and gracious host. When I left Milwaukee, the North Avenue location had become Daydream Records and Tapes.

Stacee McDermott said...

I am Stacee McDermott second child of James and Helen McDermott. I am pretty sure my Dad worked for your Dad as his chef at the Fleur de Lis and then at Frenchy's back in the late fifties and early sixties. My Dad left your Dad's employ to open his own restaurant in the early sixties called The Elbow Room. It was on Front street. When that ended my Dad became the manager at North Shore Country Club. We left Wisconsin in 1968. We moved to Springfield Missouri where my Dad managed Twin Oaks Country Club. Your Dad helped my parents with the down payment on the house they bought here in Springfield. I know my Dad always valued the friendship he had with your Dad...He was a really special guy.

Stacee

Paul La Pointe said...

6782 raenothStacee,

I do remember a chef named Jim, and I am guessing that this was your dad. I don't recall if he worked at the Fleur de Lis, as I was pretty young at that time, but I definitely remember a chef named Jim in the 60's at Frenchy's.

Thanks for posting; it is always a treat to hear from others who had a connection to one of my father's restaurants. They were special places.

Paul

Brenda Meister said...

I too worked at Frenchy's in the Bulldog Pub. I had never been a waitress before that and was thrilled that Mr. LaPointe hired me. I was dating a guy then that dared me to apply for the job. I have very fond memories and I too think that there will never be another restaurant like Frenchy's. I wish I could get the receipe for the cucumber sandwiches that they had at the bar upstairs. Oh, does anyone know Bob Stime. He was a friend of my husband, Bob Meister.

Paul La Pointe said...

Brenda,

I might be able to come up with the recipe for the cucumber sandwiches. Those were truly delicious! My father always used fresh-baked white bread, the sort of thing that Wonder Bread fantasized about being. I have an aunt who is in her 90's (my mother's younder sister)who has a lot of the old Frenchy's recipes, and I think she mentioned to me the last time we spoke that she had that recipe as well. I will check. Meanwhile, I will post a couple of recipes soon from the restuarant, including Duck Normandy, Shrimp Denise and the antipasto.

Dennis said...

Some names of those chefs I remembered, and all decent guys:
Clarence Nelson-head chef ?
John Reigler, another chef - 'Polish John', Jim Lawson, Carl Zeigler,Ed, and I seem to recall a George, no last names....

I will try to list some bartenders too....


AngelGirl said...

My Dad was Jim Lawson and worked as a chef at Frenchy's from the early 60's until the place closed. I have many happy memories of Frenchy's.
Wendy Lawson

Anonymous said...

Sure, Wendy, I remember your Dad. I remember he had a full head of hair but grey - white and spoke with a bit of a Southern accent.( St Louis, maybe ? ). Anyway, yeah nice guy.
Dennis

Anonymous said...

Hi! Not sure if this thread is still active, but I'm so happy I came across it! I am a granddaughter of Margot's. I have little hosiery repair kit that looks like a matchbook that says Frenchy's on it. I'd really love to see some photos, especially of Frenchy himself and other family, as I don't have any. I know there is more to the story and don't harbor any ill feelings, just would like to hear the rest of the story. My email is emauu78@yahoo.com thank you- Elyssa