Milwaukee nightclub Victor’s for sale after 60 years amid family business tension – BizTimes Milwaukee

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The future of an iconic downtown Milwaukee nightlife haunt is in limbo after its real estate and business assets were put up for sale, in the midst of a family business disagreement.

Victor’s, and its longtime location at 1230 N. Van Buren St., have been listed for sale for $1.9 million. Included in the sale price is the tavern’s single-story, 5,280-square-foot building, all furniture, fixtures and equipment, and an adjacent a 24-space surface parking lot, according to a Colliers property listing. Built in 1966, the building sits on a 0.44-acre lot. The Victor’s property has an assessed value of $1.1 million, according to city records.

Victor’s will remain open for business pending a sale, said Vic Jones, who has operated the bar and nightclub for the past 25 years. His father, the late Victor Jones, opened Victor’s in the 1960s. The spot has since held a reputation among local patrons for its lively atmosphere, dancing and strong cocktails — and everything that might come along with that.

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Jones died in 2021 at the age of 91, leaving sole ownership of the business to his wife, Mary Ann Jones, who is 94. Her decision to sell the bar after six decades of family ownership — one made under the guidance of another family member — is understandable considering her age and the difficulties the business has faced in the wake of the founder’s death, said Vic Jones, but it’s a move that he and some of his siblings don’t agree with.

“There’s a part of the family that wants to cash out, and they’re kind of in control. And then there’s the other part that would like to continue to have it operate for, I don’t know, two, three, four more years,” said Jones. “I’m sure if Victor was still alive, he wouldn’t be selling it.”

He noted that there was not a “good succession plan” in place for the business at the time of his father’s death, which has likely contributed to the ongoing tension between the siblings. Jones, 68, is the youngest of seven, many of which have been involved in the bar’s day-to-day operations for periods of time over the years. He said he started working at his family’s business at the age of 8 or 9.

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“I’ve been doing this all my life,” he said.

Now, Jones wants to try to buy Victor’s in an effort to keep the business in the family — and to preserve the iconic Milwaukee establishment for patrons. He and his brothers are working to put a deal together to purchase the bar and the tavern building his father built in 1966. Since then, there has been two additions built onto the structure.

Business at Victor’s has been tough since the COVID-19 pandemic and Victor’s passing the following year. To make matters worse, Victor’s kitchen has been out of commission since last April after Jones’s sisters retired from the business. With food sales now limited to pizza — rather than a full menu — the bottom line has suffered. Still, the bar has been able to maintain its competitive edge as one of the few licensed nightclubs in the area and has worked to draw younger customers through promotions, drink specials and booking DJs who mix a broad range of genres. Victor’s currently employs around 35 people.

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Plus, Victor’s is located on an up-and-coming block, directly across the street from New Land Enterprises’ newly constructed Nova building, which has 250 apartments and will be home to a new coffee shop and bar called Haven Cafe. Despite the uncertainty, Jones is hopeful about the recent increase in activity in the neighborhood.

“We’ve always had someplace across the street where we fed off of and people would come and go back and forth, and with all the new people moving into the neighborhood, we are very optimistic about our business,” he said.

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