Thai Joe's bar and club shuttered after 16 years
After living in Thailand for seven years, Joe Ryan wanted to share the culture with Milwaukeeans. For 16 years, he did just that through his restaurant, Bangkok Orchid, and his lounge, Thai Joe's. Recently, Ryan closed The Orchid and will do the same with Thai Joe's after a closing benefit on Thursday, May 6 and Friday, May 7.
Ryan issued a statement on his Web site, but did not return phone calls, keeping why the restaurant is closing a mystery. According to an employee, however, the proceeds will go directly to Ryan and his wife, Noy, because they do not have plans to open another establishment at this point.
Ryan was issued a $28,000 ticket on April 14 for overcrowding at Thai Joe's. Milwaukee Police Department Spokesman Sgt. Ken Henning said officers were called to Joe's after being tipped off that a patron was carrying a gun. They did not find any weapons, but counted 116 more people than the club's 99-person occupancy permit allowed.
Noy Ryan was contacted but refused to comment about the details of the situation. During a recent press conference Joe Ryan claimed he needed at least 100 people in the bar to turn a profit.
Ryan and Noy, a native of Thailand who held the lifelong dream of opening a restaurant, resuscitated the basement of the Prospect Mall when they opened the Bangkok Orchid. They later expanded to the North with the Orchid Lounge in September of 1994, which then bloomed into Thai Joe's Lava Lounge in 1995.
Thai Joe's hosted countless national acts, including Merl Saunders, Vince Welnick, Mark Farina, The New Deal and ULU, as well as scores of local shows by Natty Nation, Burnt Toast & Jam, Reptile Palace Orchestra and Citizen King.
Joe's also hosted tons of underground events including 42 consecutive "Wheeled" Art Performance Shows and took over the popular Thursday Night Grateful Dead Tape Nite, formerly held at Thurman's.
Thursday, May 6 includes performances by One Drum, Liquid Dancehall, DR Nick, DJ Angelus, Scenario Brothers and Old Man Malcolm. The Friday farewell features Freshwater Collins, The Westfall, Mississippi Cactus, Hudson, Litmus Vinyl, Ethan Keller Band, members of The Probers, DJ Doc-Der and DJ Zylstra.
The shows start at 5 p.m. and the cost is $10, which includes food and souvenirs. A raffle and auction will also take place.
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