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Ex Fabula: Doors Open Milwaukee

Megan McGee
Storyteller Coe Douglas

If you love the stories found in the history of Milwaukee’s places and spaces, this weekend must seem like an unofficial local holiday. Doors Open Milwaukee is a two-day event that organizes tours of more than 200 buildings in the metro area – including Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge, which is featured in our second story.

Fun fact: This week’s stories were told at Ex Fabula events not unlike Doors Open Milwaukee, called Secret Fabulas. These non-competitive storytelling events are held at local businesses, where the audience is treated first to a backstory about the business and/or building, then to stories within that theme.

Our first teller shared his story during a Secret Fabula at Voyageur Book Shop in Bay View. Coe Douglas recalled sitting at his grandparents’ rural home in the middle of the state, in the middle of winter – and in the middle of a fit of boredom. He didn’t dare ask for something to do, knowing that chores would be the answer to that question. A book on the shelf called to him: “Reader’s Digest Mysteries of the Unexplained.” Opening that book began a love affair with fiction, mystery and the written word for Cole, now a professional editor of fiction.

Credit Art Montes
Storyteller Kyle Cherek

Our second teller, Kyle Cherek, shared his memorable experiences as a patron of Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge at the Secret Fabula held at the near south side bar. The unpredictable bartender known as Mr. Jimmy could question your palate based on your order, or jump across the bar and offer a big hug. One night, while sipping a cocktail and listening to Rat Pack tunes, Shirley the cocktail waitress kicked everyone out of the bar – for a reason so outlandish, Kyle mused you need not travel to Europe for adventures when you could just go to Bryant’s.

Listen to this week's stories, here:


Our next event is the First Annual Conference for Young African American Breast Cancer, cosponsored by Ex Fabula and Engaging Young African American Breast Cancer Survivors. It will be held from 8:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29, at the Italian Community Center. Click here to learn more and register. Visit exfabula.org/tickets to find out more about this season’s events.

Rachel is WUWM's Morning Edition host. <br/><br/>