A Little History
The Up North Bar location has seen many changes over the years. It was once the Havana Club, The 400, and then Slammers. One thing has remained the same: the back bar. Dating back to the 1800's, the actual bar itself used to be the longest bar in Madison, WI. It was a bar without stools - patrons would stand and spit into spitoons while observing an occasional bar fight. It was kind of a rough neighborhood back then!
After the Civil War, passenger trains began stopping in Madison and the city began a period of incredible growth. East Wilson Street, just a few blocks away from the first train station, was Madison's first German neighborhood.
At that time, nearly all of the residents and merchants were German and the blockwas the site of The Germania House, a two-store hotel that catered to German travelers. By the late 1800s, however, the area had fallen into disrepair, populated by taverns and houses of ill-repute. all helped by a very transient community due to the hundreds of passenger trains stopping nearby.
This unfortunate trend continued through the early 1980's, which is when Bob Worm had a vision for that block, starting with a German restaurant to take the place of a vacant dinner theater at 514 E. Wilson.
He then bought the building that became the Essen Haus, and later bought the Come Back In and the Up North Saloon, along with the historic old Wilson Hotel, which he named the Ruby Marie after his mother. The Lakeview Deli & Bakery is nessled in the first floor of the Hotel Ruby Marie where hotel guests enjoy complimentary breakfast.
These days that block of East Wilson is again not only reputable, but a destination for locals and tourists alike. Known for its great German food, live polka bands,and boots full of beer, Essen Haus has helped turn a once thriving area back to its original roots of fun times and cordial hospitality....
Events on the Rest of the Spaß Platz Block:
Take a peek at our events tab to see what's going on at the Up North.
4/30: Bacon Fest w/ Karben4 & Next Door Brewing Co. (Craft Beer Week event)
5/6: Maifest w/ Dane County Humane Society & Lakefront Brewing AND Kentucky Derby Party
(click to view)