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  • Writer's picturejohn_dye

Facade Restoration - so it begins!

When we took over At Random in 2018, we took great care to restore the interior. Our main goal was to preserve the feeling of the space while making sure the systems were modernized so we could assure that At Random is around for many generations to come. We modernized the HVAC system, much of the plumbing, and the electrical. We restored the wallpaper, shined the wood paneling, and replaced the aging carpet. We even matched the original 1964 mid-century green booths with Deadstock Naugahyde from a warehouse in Chicago.

The interior of At Random, Milwaukee with mid century swag lights, U shaped bar.
Restoring the MCM interior was our first priority!

The facade was always supposed to be Phase II of our restoration. While there is a charm to the aluminum siding, it was starting to fail, causing some major leaks and rot, all of which could not be ignored. We contracted with a local restoration company that we knew would understand the complexities of working with a historic building that houses a much loved vintage cocktail lounge and, in March 2020, we signed a contract to have them begin the restoration.

Well, as you know, March 17th 2020 was the day our world stopped. COVID hit the States and we closed for an indefinite period of ti

me. All of a sudden, the exterior restoration didn't seem as important. We took the funds we had set aside for the exterior and we used them to build a patio where we could safely serve our customers and keep our staff employed.

It was a great move! The Ice Cream Social patio was a hit and our winter event, The Magic Forest, has become a holiday tradition. Plus, it saved jobs and it saved our business while giving people a break from the stress of a global pandemic.

However, when it was all said and done, we were still left with an aging facade that had some serious problems that were only getting worse. Water was leaking behind the siding, birds were nesting in the side of the building., and a piece of siding flew off in a wind storm. Wood was rotting and the siding was looking more dented and dingy than ever.

In Spring 2023 we decided it was once again time to call our contractors and begin work - they blew the dust off our contract and got to business. In February 2023 they started tearing off the siding, revealing a beautiful facade that had been covered sine the 1930s. They even found some graffiti that hadn't been seen for almost 100 years.

We are excited to restore the facade while paying honor to the Mid Century cocktail lounge that has been housed in the building since 1964. Again, our goal is simple, make sure that At Random is brought up to standards so it is around for generations to come.. We hope you will follow along and let us know what you think!

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