Thursday Doors: A Tale of Two Pubs

Today’s Thursday Doors post is brought to you by Norm 2.0, two pubs and adult refreshment.

There are two establishments in Appleton that I would take visitors to if A) they wanted to be somewhere unique and drink a dirty snowball and/or B) they were connoisseurs of beer. Today, I am sharing their doors, a little history, and a few photos from inside.

Cleo’s Brown Beam

Do you love the holidays? All holidays? Then you would love Cleo’s Brown Beam. <<-Make sure you click on the link!


Allan Sosnoski was a patron of Cleo’s years before he became an owner of the iconic downtown bar with its year-round Christmas decorations. It was founded in 1970 by the colorful Cleo Brown. “She had carpeting on the walls and the bar. She had dust everywhere. The dance floor was big enough for maybe six people,” Sosnoski stated. “I don’t miss the smoke but I do miss the carpeting.”

Cleo’s isn’t only about Christmas. Inside the bar, there are St. Patrick’s Day decorations, Halloween and Thanksgiving decorations, Fourth of July decorations…all of it. When Cleo Brown was owner of the pub, the carpeted walls were covered from end to end…no bare spaces whatsoever. As Mr. Sosnoski stated, it was dusty and smoky in the pub as those were the days when smoking was allowed in most bars and there were far too many decorations to benefit from lemon Pledge and a rag. The Fire Department eventually came through and told the owner that the place had to be cleaned up. It was a fire hazard.


Downtown Appleton tavern owner Cleo Brown poses amid her Brown Beam’s unusual decor on May 13, 1991 at 205 W. College Avenue.

At present, Cleo’s continues to lay claim as the most decorated bar in the area, with a few less decorations than in the days of Cleo Brown. It’s one of the most popular bars in downtown Appleton, with a line of people waiting to get into the long and narrow bar most Friday and Saturday nights. Cleo’s allows only so many people through the doors at one time due to capacity limits and fire regulations. On the Saturday before Halloween, it’s one of the fun places to be to witness a plethora of strange and unique costumes among the decorations.

Bazil’s Pub

Doors4Established in 1993, Bazil’s claims to have comfy bar stools and a selection of 150 craft beers. This is not only one of my favorite Appleton pubs, but it is also one of my beer-loving brother’s favorite places when he comes to visit. Brother always finds something new at Bazil’s, a beer that isn’t available where he resides. Bazil’s Pub has a “beer of the month” and a Beer Club. On the second Tuesday of each month, they have free beer tasting (haven’t done this yet)(really?)(#whatamithinking).

Bazil2On every day of every month, one can order a Big Ass Burger, along with various other menu items.  Patrons can win a $50 gift card and have their name on a beer club plaque for drinking one of each 100 beers on the beer list. Do this five times and the patron’s name goes on a bottle cap. An added feature of the bar…ceiling tiles are for wedding couples, who get to design (doodle on) their own tile.

Personally, I tend to love a brandy old fashioned more so than a beer, and Bazil’s excels at this Wisconsin drink. Last fall, during Oktoberfest, two girlfriends and I sat on the patio at Bazil’s, enjoying an old fashioned and taking in the musicality of a local rock band. It was a great way to start off an annual event, and my birthday, on a beautiful September day. Cheers!

In conclusion, if Charles Dickens had visited these two watering holes, he may have written:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst best of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness happiness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity wonder, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness bright shiny things, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair summer of beer.” 

If you’re itching to open a few more doors today, GO HERE.

29 responses to Thursday Doors: A Tale of Two Pubs

  1. Dan Antion says:

    Oh my goodness – the interior shot of the decorations – wow! I can see why it’s a popular place. Who wouldn’t feel better, just for walking in there, let alone snagging an adult beverage. I can almost smell the lingering odor of smoke in the 1erstwhile carpet. I can’t say that I would miss that, if I should ever get to Cleo’s. Thanks for sharing the history of these places. By the way, you had me a ‘pubs’ 🙂

    • bikerchick57 says:

      This is a great place if you’re an elf or lover of Christmas. The carpeting is gone, so all you smell is wine and cheap perfume…

  2. joannesisco says:

    My nose started to twitch at the thought of all that carpeting! … but all the decorations make it look like so much fun.

    Two very unique places and such a poetic ending. (Love the salad in a glass – I would definitely try it … I’m guessing a Caesar?)

  3. I have to go with beer at Bazil’s. I’m not for lots of laws, but I do love no smoking in restaurants and bars (still remember the funky smells) and carpeting? No thanks.


    • bikerchick57 says:

      Appleton is smoke-free in all establishments, so you don’t have to worry about that smell. The carpeting is long gone, but I now wonder if any of the decorations remain from the pub’s establishment. I will have to ask the next time I’m there.

  4. Great shots of those pubs – pardon the pun – and story to go with them. I love the Dicken’s piece at the end. 🙂

  5. Norm 2.0 says:

    Good post. Cleo’s kinda gets my mild claustrophobia twitching but I’ll go for a brew at Bazil’s any time 🙂

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Thanks Norm. You’d have to go to Cleo’s on a Monday afternoon, when it’s slow. If you have any degree of claustrophobia, you would not want to go in there on a Saturday night.

  6. joey says:

    Nice! I think they both sound like they’re worth a visit, although maybe for me, not on Halloween night, waiting in line. Carpet, yeah, I can remember when a lot of places had carpet on the walls and smoking, specifically the town skating rink. I love an old-fashioned, and I tend to make them a lot in the fall. Specifically, I tend to make them at night when the kids have gone to bed. They’re a good silence sorta drink for me. Never had one with brandy — is that the only modification? I would try it, fersure! 🙂

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Brandy is the typical liquor in old fashioned’s around here. I used to have them with whiskey until whiskey started giving me heartburn. My neighbor drinks them with Southern Comfort. I have them now with brandy and sour, cherries and oranges mashed in the bottom, with additional fruit on the little plastic stir stick. There are a couple places in town that makes them perfectly, one of them being Bazil’s.

      • joey says:

        I’ve only ever had whiskeys in mine. I’m a bit partial to Knob Creek and a splash of seltzer. 🙂

  7. I had to look up a Dirty Snowball…I like Vodka, Chocolate, and Coffee so I’d try it.. What a hoot Cleo’s is! I’d go there, but am happy to hear the carpeted walls are gone. I wonder how often she had to have them cleaned? Or did she care about that? Maybe not. 🙂

    Bazil’s! How early do you need to be there to snag a table for Oktoberfest? Hope it’s not days of camping out! What a neat annual birthday thing to do with girlfriends.

    That Bloody Mary…Wow! I think you’d have to have one hunkin’ hang over to need that much Bloody Mary! Just sayin’. 🙂

    • bikerchick57 says:

      I have a hunch that the carpet was not cleaned often…if at all. Stinky! As for Bazil’s, you have to get there early the day of to get a table. Or stand around until someone leaves.

  8. Those Christmas decorations are …..WOW! 🙂 I love a good Bloody Mary so would be happy with that tub, garden and all! Enjoyed your Dickens quote. Haha. Great post! 🙂

  9. Suvi says:

    What fun stories behind these doors! I would love to visit Cleo’s – I adore Christmas decorations! I wouldn’t go as far as have them on show all year round but if there’s a shop that has them (there’s a shop like that in Iceland), I’m happy to go in for a look.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      There are a couple of year-around Christmas shops in my area that I stop in at from time to time. They are so much fun! I love the rubber chicken ornament I got at one place a few years ago. Yes, I said rubber chicken. It made me LOL, so I had to buy it.

  10. You wrote a post about pubs and I missed it?? Where have I been??
    So Bazil’s (trust Americans to replace the s with a z) is the one you were telling me about, yeah? That’s a definite goer. Must organise itinerary to be there second Tuesday….

    • bikerchick57 says:

      I think you were at the same place I was when I almost missed your post about sports. At the pub? Or just busy. BTW, there is a restaurant in town called Basil’s. Asian cuisine. Something else for your itinerary.

  11. ms mary p says:

    Hi, Thanks for stopping by my blog. Cleo’s looks like a fun place to visit although the minimalist in me might have me running out after a short while

    • bikerchick57 says:

      You’re welcome Mary. You can run out of Cleo’s after you have a drink and sing a Christmas song. 😉

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