"A hidden and mysterious world . . . a uniquely secretive nightclub... hidden entrances as unique as the club's location... a riddle of secret passageways . . . a veritable spy palace."
Secret Passages (ten-minute feature on the Safe House)
The History Channel.
"You'd have to be a CIA guy to figure this whole place out in one visit!"
"Safe House - The ultimate hidden lair..."
Travel Channel - Extreme Restaurants
Let loose your inner spy at Safe House. David Baldwin opened the retro restaurant and house of espionage in 1966, capitalizing on the Cold War's spy craze. To enter the restaurant, you need to know the password, although we're told that "Control" has never turned away a hungry spy for not knowing the password. Once inside, you'll see spy-holes, 2-way mirrors and a labyrinth of hidden passageways. One of the restaurant's booths is actually a secret entrance to the social club next door. Make sure you order the signature cocktail, the Spytini. Bartenders send the shaker through 600 feet of tubing that passes through every room in the restaurant before landing back at the bar and being poured into your glass.
Travel Channel - Extreme Restaurants
Safe House takes the spy theme to the extreme... I can't divulge all the secrets of Milwaukee's Safe House. Intelligence would have me terminated. Or, at least, the owners would be miffed. I can tell you it's a refuge for secret agents, disguised as a restaurant and bar. (Or is it the other way around?) I knew the address...but struggled to find the hidden alleyway door. ..Safe House is one of the coolest restaurant-bars I've ever been to.
La Carmina -- Coolhunter
An Undercover Rendezvous
"Too much to pass up."
Best of -- Food Network
"Bars have long distingushed themselves with themes, but few in Wisconsin have been as paradoxically elusive and successful as the Safe House. Customers spend a long time in this bar because their on the move exploring the place and enjoying the experience. When it is time for bar goers to step out of the world of intrigue, finding the secret exit is their final mission."
Historic Bars of WI
"There's a mysterious place in Milwaukee U.S.A. called The Safe House...intrigue and beer go well."
Journey to the World's Finest
Japan TV: SkyLand Pla-net Productions
"... a place so secretive even the directions are written in disappearing ink..."
WealthTV - WOW Milwaukee
"The Safe House has pulled out all the stops to mislead and intrigue it's customers, since 1966."
Travel Channel - Extreme Bathrooms
"Safe House - Be sure to check it out. If you can find it."
WMVT - Milwaukee Nightlife
"If you're a spy in Milwaukee, this is definitely the place to eat!"
World's Weirdest Restaurants
"... a fun place to show friends how awsome Milwaukee is..."
"Follow us to...Milwaukee's finest, a spy-theme restaurant."
Alt News 26:46
Tony Clark from Fox 6 News at the Safe House.
- Tony inside the Safe House
- Undercover at the Safe House
- Cooking up a storm in the Safe House
- Tony uncovers the Safe House kitchen
- Tony at the Newsroom
Fox 6 News
"Do Before You Die."
"The members of the White House Communications Agency wish to express our sincere appreciation for the outstanding manner in which you provided support to President George W. Bush during his visit to Milwaukee, WI. Your unique abilities, coupled with your superb attitude and professionalism enabled our Agency to provide critical communications for the President, the White House staff and the United States Secret Service."
White House Communications Agency
"Irresistible to the inexhaustible supply of secret-agent fans. . ."
"One of the most unusual spots in Milwaukee."
"It's America's first discotheque for spies."
London Daily Express
"No better place to get one's martini made just the way James Bond fancies them -- shaken, not stirred."
Knowing the password allows you to sidestep the humiliation, but how fun is that? ...You never know which booth or picture on the wall may give way to a secret room, or who is behind the one-way mirror. Visit the interrogation room on your birthday for some special treatment, and stumble on spy gadgets while you're getting lost in what one Yelp reviewer called "A playground for adults." ...But please keep this all a secret ..."Legend has it our Station Chief, Dave Baldwin, a self-made multi-zillionaire at 16, was on R & R at his palatial Chalet high in the Swiss Alps when he received an urgent message from Control with orders to install a spook's haven in MKE. On Oct 8, 1966, a Safe House was clandestinely put in operation in downtown Milwaukee. The rest as they say is hearsay." That's dedication.
Unassuming entrance hides...one of the Planet's Five Hippest Hangouts. Why you want in: Every spy needs a refuge … preferably one that serves batter-dipped cheese curds. The plaque next to the door reads International Exports, ltd. estab. 1868, but behind it is a spy-themed eatery with a secret escape route and a chair that rises up from a trapdoor in the floor. How to get in: Go to the website, click on the Top Secret Clearance Agreement to promise you won't disclose the location, then contact Control (translation: make a reservation).
"It should come as no surprise that The Safe House is your favorite Water Street area bar. After all, it's world-renowned – a place where Milwaukeeans bring out of town guests, a place where many of us had our first drink when we came of age, a place Milwaukee just loves to hang out and get its espionage on."
Voted Best of MKE 2013 by On Milwaukee Readers for:
Best Theme Bar
Best Bar to take your Kids, Best Gimmick
Best Bar in On/Near Water Street: The Safe House and Runner Up after the Pfister Lobby Bar
Best Place to take your Parents
"My Milwaukee evening highlights included a tipple at a spy-themed bar, The Safe House; a stroll to the Riverwalk for a snap with the Bronze Fonz statue...and a visit to the Lakefront Brewery..."
Daily Mirror (UK)
Restaurant that should be a national chain: The Safe House. The keeper glasses are the real star of the show. Those glasses already show up in exotic locations on the website, so why not have ones branded with other exotic cities? ...The Safe House is the type of restaurant every other crap-on-the-walls restaurant wishes it could be. Wandering around the place looking for conversation starters makes eating here an experience. The Safe House needs to expand into a city known for its spies and intrigue. Washington, D.C. already has the International Spy Museum, so why not open up a location nearby?
"head to Safe House, a spy-themed restaurant where you have to know the password to get in ...Safe House is smuggled in a nondescript building disguised as an international export company and is full of memorabilia, hidden doors and secret chambers."
It's been said that just finding Milwaukee's Safe House is "mission impossible." But once secret agents—as patrons are called—do, they will find a safe haven with spy-tacular food and drink...James Bonds and Mata Haris can rest assured that Control never turns away anyone on the run... A good spy is prepared for the unexpected as nothing is ever what it seems... Over the years the inventory of spy gimmicks and objects has grown, making each visit more engrossing than the last...The Crafty Cuisine menu is as eclectic as the cover stories of resident spies...Agents will find that the "intel" is good. The Safe House really does have a license to thrill, just as it claims.
AAA Home And Away Magazine
Visit the Safe House on Milwaukee ❤ Kids iPhone
application, (available and downloadable from iTunes)
Top 10 Things to do in Milwaukee with Kids: The Safe House.
Psst! What's the password? If you don't know, be prepared to fulfill some sort of crazy request like ...<CENSORED>... to gain entrance to this clandestine dining destination. Spy-themed decor includes secret passageways, doors opening to brick walls and an exit through a phone booth...the Safe House is good fun...
The Safe-House, 779 N. Front Street, is often featured in the media as one of the most imaginative and exciting places in the city and every word is true. This spy-themed cocktail lounge is wonderful from the moment you set out to find it ...
The Philadelphia Sunday Sun
There may not be a more durable example of the ilk [theme restaurants] than the Safe House in Milwaukee. It opened in 1966 and remains as lively-goofy and enjoyable as ever. It's all about spies and espionage and its theme is pleasantly hammered home, from the décor (check your coat in the Cloak and Dagger Room) to the menu (try the Spy Burger and, for dessert, Bond's Bomb)... New diversions are always being created or added... we admire the sense of history.
"The Safe House is perhaps the most amusing, and certainly the most discreet. It hides behind a front door stamped "International Exports Ltd". You must whisper in the doorwoman's ear to gain entry. Get the password wrong and she'll make you hop like a monkey or frisk your friend before going in, all of which is secretly filmed and relayed live inside the bar on CCTV. I'd never received a round of applause for entering a bar before. The walls inside are full of spyholes and secret passages and feature chunks of Checkpoint Charlie."
The Independent (U.K.)
Milwaukee's best bar on or near Water Street, 2012: Safe House: This not-so-secret Milwaukee watering hole has been serving cold beer, strong mixers and clandestine concoctions like the famous Spy's Demise in its tucked-away corner off Front Street for generations. ...Safe House has welcomed friendly agents from all corners of the world, including a number of famous faces – many of whom graciously left celebrity mementos.... OnMilwaukee.com readers clearly love an undercover underdog. If you think this will loosen the lips of the "International Exports, Ltd." staff, though – nice try.
Secrecy is the selling point of this Milwaukee restaurant hideaway. The Safe House is enclosed in a classified location and requires a password for entry. Those savvy enough to unlock the code are forbidden from divulging the information to any uninitiated diners or"agents". . . Dishes such as the Soviet Defector, baby back pork ribs slow cooked in a spicy barbecue sauce, the'MI-5,' a salmon and crabmeat stuffing drilled with dill beurre blanc, and the Jack Bauer, a flame-broiled sirloin baseball steak served with wild mushrooms and garlic crostini, are agent favorites.
The Daily Meal: World's Wildest Dining.
A whimsical who's who of the world's wackiest restaurants
False doors, props from spy movies and books, and a mazelike layout provide amusement for whodunit fans.
An element of secrecy ...gives guests a sense of pride when they enter. You feel privileged to be there. The Safe House's location is hard to find ...yet since the 1960's, the Safe House has been the city's go-to place to bring visitors. If you don't know the password, don't worry...
Forbes Traveler.com: America's Most Bizarre Restaurants
Safe House is such a well known entity in Milwaukee that sometimes you forget that it doesn't even have its name on its front door.
The Business Journal
"I've been dragged into niteclubs from Istanbul to Hong Kong. . . only one spot remains in my memory. . . the Safe House in Milwaukee."
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
America's Strangest Restaurants: The building's placard may say International Exports, Ltd., but insiders know that behind the innocuous alleyway façade is a secret refuge for hungry spies and the people who love them—provided you have the password. (Shhh...) There are secret doors and covert passageways, shoe telephones and other spy gadgetry, plus in-character Cold War waiters doling out brandy-spiked Brown-Eyed Woman and batter-dipped cheddar curds. What to Eat: The Sean Connery (flame-broiled steak with onion rings and baked potato).
... If you do not know the secret code, you will have to pass a test .... Passing the test is pretty great; I won't spoil it for you. Just remember you're always being watched.... The Safe House is...one of the most unique bars I've ever been to and probably one of my favorites. Each room is a different spy-themed room each with tables and bars. It's a very big place and discovering it is kind of like an amusement park. One of my favorite bars is in the way back called the Newsroom where it contains the signatures on the wall of many of the most popular journalists in the world and many past US presidents. It's one thing having decor of spy related pictures and items but it's another when they actually get into the theme and character. All of the staff takes their job super serious and really gets into their characters. Don't tell anyone but the address is ...
Art of Adventuring
In all of the 60 countries I have visited across the globe, I can honestly say that I have never been anywhere quite like Milwaukee's Safe House. For one thing, all patrons are referred to as "operatives" and the entire environment of the sprawling complex is devoted to giving you the feeling that you are deeply entrenched inside a secret Cold War safe house where anyone around you could potentially be a spy. ... With bartenders who perform magic tricks, trap doors which lead to nowhere, and a shaken martini which must first traverse 600 ft. of plastic tubing running across the ceiling, The Safe House is easily one of the most uniquely-themed bars I visited in all of Milwaukee, and potentially the world. Now, how do I find the door out of this place?
Do you know the password? The cool thing about this place is that it is not just a bar, it's a fun house for adults. Its nook-and-crannyville. We get to see things here that [we]don't normally see at an establishment where you dine, where you drink... You get to take your souvenir glass home with you, and that's the way you remember you were here. You have to keep things secret, private and quiet. I've lived here all my life and never really paid attention [to the food] because like a lot of people, I come here for the experience. There's so much to look at, so much to play with, but the food is really a big deal here! Extra detail and care are taken for your food.Check out the nooks and crannies and always pay attention to where your chair is going.
Real Milwaukee (Fox TV)
The Safe House in Milwaukee is a popular spy-theme restaurant and night spot that since 1966 has provided Crafty Concoctions and Incredible Edibles to hungry agents on R & R. It is secreted behind International Exports Ltd. on Front Street in Milwaukee. Nowhere will you find a sign advertising "Safe House." "Secret agents" find this spy-haven mostly by word-of-mouth. A popular landmark here in Milwaukee that celebrities like Charlie Sheen have visited. It's not just a bar, not just a place to check out cool stuff, it's not a place just to be a spy and have a cocktail and take your briefcase in, it's also a place to eat. And the food is delicious, upscale casual dining... Are the recipes in a briefcase somewhere?... You can never get bored here.
Tony Clark, Fox 6 news
Best in Chicago:
Best Really Suburban Hangout. Okay, it's in Milwaukee, as in Wisconsin. But the spy-themed Safe House features cheap martinis and requires a secret password to enter.
Milwaukee's best bar for a secret rendezvous, 2011: The Safe House: Looking for a dark, quiet, out of the way place to enjoy an intimate evening with that special someone? According to OnMilwaukee.com readers, that place is in the heart of Downtown on a quiet little alley called Front Street...While The Safe House is a popular destination, many of the visitors are from out of town, so they won't spot you on your tryst. Anyway, the bar has lots of dark corners and intimate spaces where you and your lovebird can coo the night away
Essentially a museum housing thousands of artifacts from the spy world . . .offers an unusual place for a drink, nibbles and even karaoke. The address may be public knowledge, but don't expect immediate entry. You are greeted in a small reception area by a host who demands a password . . . You'll have to find out the rest of the information on your own, as I've been sworn to secrecy.
Part of the fun in traveling is discovering unusual eating spots. But this is certainly one of the most unique I have ever visited. Without telling too much or giving away too many secrets, let me whisper a few tidbits about the Safe House. . . It's the kind of place where you can be confused and amused, where you are invited to live and let laugh... So turn up the collar of your trench coat, don your dark glasses and slip into the Safe House, where they have a license to thrill.
Get into the Safe House.
Top 100 things every student should do before graduating from Marquette.
10. Explore the Safe House!
100 things for kids to do in Milwaukee
Top Ten Places for a Date in Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Hidden down a secret passageway in the heart of the city, the SafeHouse is truly a one of a kind destination that will probably have you remembered as the coolest date ever (even if your chemistry is lacking). It's ...a restaurant, a rowdy bar, an American history museum and a spy hide-away all in one. With a theme so thoroughly explored that it rivals the décor of an Epcot restaurant it is impossible not to have something to talk about while at The Safe House.
YOU MUST SEE IT TO BELIEVE IT! It is a little difficult to find parking but please I beg of you make the effort...I know it sounds silly but trust me it is a blast when you are there and in the spirit... The inside is a series of rooms up and down with secret passages. The food is very good and they have wonderful unusual drinks, with and without alcohol. Families do come in here, its not a real bar atmosphere. It is so unique, please go to the link and check it out. Words can't do it justice...It has been reviewed by Time magazine, Food Network, People Magazine even The History Channel and all very favorably. Even the restrooms are a trip, the posters on the walls are so funny. If you happen to take a trip to Milwaukee, which is a nice place anyway PLEASE STOP AT SAFE HOUSE.
Channel your inner spy at the Safe House in Milwaukee, WI. This bar and restaurant doesn't take itself seriously, but it does take the spy theme and run with it...There's trap doors and secret walls and…if I tell you anymore they'll send people after me. . .If you visit Milwaukee, you absolutely MUST make a trip to this spy funhouse. Though if anyone asks, you were never there.
007 would be so pleased. The password-protected bar and restaurant (yes, we all know the password, but we still don't speak of it), is a spy aficionado's dream come true. A secret passage for gaining access to the Milwaukee Press Club next door and covert main entrance add to the Bond-esque appeal.
25 things every Milwaukeean must do:
Gain Entry to the Safe House
The man behind the restaurant is David Baldwin. Inspired by the world's fascination with espionage, he created this spy retreat in 1966 and has continued to add new spy devices ever since. This restaurant is so covert, even its location is kept secret! ......enough gadgets and gimmicks to keep spies entertained for hours ... While fueling the city's imagination, Baldwin satisfies its appetite as well ... Brush up on your spy vernacular and bring your fellow operatives to the Safe House for some relaxing fun and delicious dining. And keep this hidden hot spot a secret -- if you can!
American Lifestyle magazine
The Safe House, 779 N. Front St., serves American cuisine in an espionage-themed interior. You need to decipher the password to get in.
Arkansas Democrat Gazette
St. Paul Pioneer Press Newspaper
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Knock three times on the alleyway door at International Exports Ltd. Then, like at all good spy joints, you'll need a secret password for admission. Once in, head to the bar for dynamite drinks guaranteed to take out any James Bond villain.
The Ultimate Milwaukee Bar Crawl -- Milwaukee Exotica
Milwaukee's Best Bar for Celebrating a 21st birthday, 2011: Safe House. For some, it's a 21st birthday party. For others, it's a burning of the fake ID celebratory ritual. Either way, the blessed occasion is one to mark with a cocktail or six, and OnMilwaukee.com readers think the Safe House is the best place in town to do this. The spy-themed bar allows you to -- clandestinely or not -- ring in your right to legally drink with a signature cocktail like the Spy's Demise or a simple bottle of something local. As long as you know the password, of course, and you don't touch the wooden heart over Burt Reynold's junk in the women's bathroom. But if you do, we warned you. If you are planning a 21st birthday party for a friend, consider calling ahead ...
Double Bonding: For four decades, the Safe House (779 N. Front St., (414) 271-2007) has been Milwaukee's hot spot for spy aficionados wanting to come in from the cold. Guests need a password to enter but once securely ensconced, the world's geopolitical travails take second place. Attempt to find the secret passages to enter the neighboring Milwaukee Press Club bar to ogle historic signatures of the famous and infamous while rubbing elbows with Milwaukee's off-duty media. Launched in the late 1800s, the Press Club is the nation's longest-in-business hangout for scribes and scribners.
GMToday.com - 13 Great Nights Out
Even the bars in Milwaukee provide entertainment, particularly the infamous Safe House (www.safe-house.com). Part bar, part spy museum, the Safe House has no markings on its doors (just "International Exports, Ltd." to throw bad guys off your trail), and requires a password to enter. (And I'll never tell what it is. You'll have to pass the test first.) Once inside, the place is packed top to bottom with authentic spy memorabila from organizations like the KGB, and also from fictitous heros like James Bond. Hallways twist and turn, bathroom doors lead to dead ends, and the phone booth plays pre-recorded alibis should your cover get blown. And if anyone asks you were never there.
Best theme bar, 2009: Safe House: Once again, OnMilwaukee.com readers picked the spy-themed Safe House as Milwaukee's top theme bar. The 43-year-old bar and restaurant features a trick entrance requiring a password, a cloak-and-dagger room and a menu featuring clandestine cuisine like the spy burger and a Bond's Bomb dessert. The bar features concoctions like the Spy's Demise, served in a Safe House pint glass.
An element of secrecy, commonplace in bars and clubs in New York and L.A., gives guests a sense of pride when they enter. You feel privileged to be there. This is the case at what seems to be a run-of-the-mill Milwaukee warehouse where you must give the covert password... The Safe House's location is hard to find and the food is typical American pub grub, yet since the 1960s the place has been the city's go-to place to bring visitors. You'll need to whisper the secret code to enter International Exports Ltd., the fake front of this spy-themed Milwaukee restaurant that has been open since 1966. If you don't know the password, don't worry -- you can hop on one leg (or whatever you are asked to do), with everyone at the bar watching on TV screens. Inside the maze-like building, you'll come across numerous secret passages--like to the Milwaukee Press Club--and spy holes among the walls that are decorated with spy memorabilia from movies and espionage books.
America's Most Bizarre Restaurants
Big Fun for Clandestine Kids: The Safe House's food is consistently good ...Also, the menu also has a variety of desserts, including the Top Secret SPYcial Dessert that's so covert they don't print the ingredients and suggest you quietly ask your server for the details...The Safe House's drink menu includes a collection of spy-themed concoctions, some of which can be made into non-alcoholic, kiddie cocktails. We ordered a short version of the Spies' Demise -- sans the booze -- and still got a glass Safe House tumbler to take home...My kid asked multiple times if we can return, and we will, because the Safe House is more than just an eatery with a unique gimmick. It's an iconic Brew City establishment with history and mystique. If you can find it, that is.
The opener, "Today" set the tone for the set, as it's a relationship-based ballad similar in style to many of Joshua Radin's songs. He took it up a notch next by rocking out on "Lovely Tonight," before easing back into love-loss songs and talking up The Pabst Theater staff and green room, Milwaukee and the bar that he called "his favorite in the world," the Safe House.
Reported by Jeff Sherman, OnMilwaukee.com
"This spy-themed restaurant involves passwords, hidden rooms and disappearing ink—and the theme continues on into its bathroom. To enter, users must navigate through a series of complicated mazes and avoid a trick door. "The bathrooms in restaurants are statement pieces," Balis says. Ever since Safe House opened in 1966, it has been using every aspect of the restaurant under its control to advance the secret-agent atmosphere. The harrowing journey to the bathroom serves as another adventurous addition..."
The World's 18 Strangest Bathrooms, Popular Mechanics
"Cue in the music from the 1960s James Bond series of movies, "Secret AGENT Man! Secret AGENT Man!" The Safe House, owned by a friend of a friend of ours, whom we can't disclose or else we'll have to kill you, is a very fun place - especially after a martini that is shaken - not stirred - and sent flying around the building in a tube before it's delivered to you."
Colorado Post Independent
"I'm a huge fan of The Safe House, how can you visit and not stop by that place."
Zane Lamprey - Drinking Made Easy (HDNET)
Zane Lamprey - Drinking Made Easy (HDNET)
You will have to get to Milwaukee to experience it yourself. It is truly an amazing place and different from any other place I have been to. . .The atmosphere of the Safe House is amazing and the food is awesome. They serve everything like soups, salads, sandwiches, ribs, shrimp, steak and so much more! They are open for lunch and dinner. You can also book a private party there or seat a large group. Trust me it is worth it to try this place out.
Make sure you explore around a little bit too! It is said to have a few secret passage ways to get in to and to get out of the place. But if I told you where I would have to kill you! That is top secret information and only for a super spy to find out themselves. As they would say at the Safe House this message will self destruct in 15 seconds.
"Espionage-themed club is a hidden Treasure in Milwaukee. . .A good word among spies travels far, deep within the dark and murky world of international intrigue. "
Wisconsin State Journal
"Milwaukee's Safe House has given "spies" of all descriptions – a legion of James Bond and Mata Hari wannabees – the chance to enter a fantasy world of espionage and intrigue ... From a disguised entrance to museum-quality memorabilia (an actual East German prison door) to clocks synched to exotic locations, you'll find surprises around every corner ... And, with the addition of a new executive chef and a revised menu, there's a "thumbs up" buzz that has crowds heading to the Safe House for the cuisine as well as the one-of-a-kind atmosphere...Visitors will note an emphasis on lighter, heart-healthy fare and impressive attention to the details that count. From homemade dressings to freshly made soups, ingenuity and the "best of what's fresh" rule in the kitchen. "
"Forty years after Time magazine called it "irresistible and inexhaustible," this spy sanctuary -- jam-packed with spy-related paraphernalia, gimmicks and gadgets -- annually entices about 125,000 operatives from all over the globe into its impenetrable quarters and grants them diplomatic immunity....For more information released on a need-to-know basis, dial 414-271-2007 or spy at www.safe-house.com.
Daily Citizen, WI
"What, you don't think that half our Event Team has lifetime memberships at the Safe House? ...I even lobbied Event Staff to try and convince the Safe House to move to Indy. The Event Staff had already talked to them about it. Yes, please read that again. It can't be more surprising to you than it was to me -- convention management had talked to the owner of a nightspot about relocating or starting a new franchise, just because he knew it would please the attendees. Unfortunately the answer was no -- the owner is happy where he is . . . but hey, they tried. Does this mean we hate Milwaukee? No. There's plenty to like about this city. We'll miss the Safe House..."
A good street map is not going to help you find one of the most interesting restaurants in Milwaukee. Neither will a good sense of direction. What you need is a sense of intrigue, a flair for the dangerous, a license to kill. Well, maybe not so much a real license to kill, but it might help if your name were Bond, James Bond. . . Everyone gets into the act, turning images of the Cold War into nothing more than lighthearted memories. . . . The Safe House is a little like Disneyland might be at Checkpoint Charlie. Energetic music, fun exhibits and colorful imagery celebrate the elements we all love in characters such as James Bond, Emma Peale, Jim Phelps and Agent 99.
Kansas City Star 02-06-06
The name's House. Safe House. I could tell you where the Milwaukee's secret bar the Safe House is but then I'd have to kill you. Actually, if Scooter Libby can divulge national secrets, why can't I? The Safe House is located in downtown Milkwaukee near City Hall (presumably for more convenient sabotage). Safe House, spy jargon for a safe haven for covert agents, is a bar devoted to the art, the subterfuge and the civilized side of spying. Themed bars can sometimes go terribly wrong but this one is authentic enough that the spy theme doesn't feel forced. It's been around for nearly 40 years and started as a labor of love by owner and spymaster David Baldwin. After walking through the door of a front store (International Export Ltd.) you'll have to provide a password or be subtly humiliated by performing stupid human tricks broadcast on closed circuit t.v.'s (pictured above). Once inside, pneumatic tubes whiz shakers full of martinis, spy posters line the wall, bookcase doors line the floor and a specially brewed beer's on draft. There are a ton of gadgets to entertain you and thankfully, in case of fire, the way out isn't as hard as the way in.
National Geographic's Gridskipper.com July 14, 2006
"Started almost 40 years ago, the Safe House is one of Milwaukee's worst-kept secrets. It's popular with hometowners and out-of-towners. It's the kind of place where you can be confused and amused, where you are invited to liveand let laugh."
"It's all in good fun. So turn up the collar of your trench coat, don your dark glasses and slip into the Safe House, where they have a license to thrill. "
The Hoosier Times
Spies can find sanctuary at the Safe House, a place with a distinctive air of espionage. Tip: look for the door to "International Exports Ltd.," in an alley, across from the historic Pabst Theater, which is near the tower of city hall. (See this classified photo for a clue.)
Essential Milwaukee: Number 12 of 25 essentials every Milwaukeean who really knows the city experiences and that even visitors seeking a true tast of Milwaukee life must sample. For years, The Safe House has been the local refuge for international spies, covert operations and restaurant and bar patrons willing to play along. . . it's hidden at...but be careful. Even the address is deceptive. If you don't already know it, you'll have to perform some silly antic...but hey, that's only the beginning! If we told you the rest, we'd be shot! If you've entered the Safe House: 1 point. Phone home using the handy background sounds for cover and get 1 point. Solve the giant wall puzzle and chalk up another.
Milwaukee Magazine City Guide
One of the best known nightspots in Milwaukee...also one of the most secret...it might be a bit tricky but a good spy, like a good Postmaster, should be able to handle all situations...A cross between Planet Hollywood and the bar scene from Star Wars...Provides eat and drink for all secret agents, even those disguised as mild-mannered Postmasters...great food and drinks...
"There is something very entertaining about knowing something the others don't, and in that is one of the secrets of the Safe House."
North Shore Lifestyle
"Thirty-five years after Time magazine called it "irresistible and inexhaustible," this three-story sanctuary-jam-packed with spy-related paraphernalia, gimmicks and gadgets-annually entices approximately 125,000 operatives from all over the globe into its impenetrable quarters and grants them diplomatic immunity..."
The Shepherd Express
The Safe House is ". . . one of the most unusual niteclubs in America."
"Safe House. . . the likes of which Milwaukee has never seen before. . . not just a bar, an adventure!"
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"A game of I Spy."
The Detroit Free Press
". . . a remarkable establishment. . . always take out-of-town guests to see this place."
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"Turn up the collar on your trench coat and prepare to live and let laugh at the Safe House. . ."
"The most well-known Milwaukee restaurant/night spot is the Safe House, which is unlike any place else you ever have seen. It will confuse and amuse you."
The Herald Bulletin, Indiana
"Dear Agent, your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to infiltrate this hottest of all Gen Con hotspots. A valid membership will enable you to enter via a new secret passage. Otherwise, access the cover entrance on Front Street (see picture) and give the password* to control. Mingle freely with fellow operatives and investigate thoroughly the various espionage concoctions once inside. This message may self destruct in five seconds."
*deleted for security reasons
The Safe House, 779 N. Front St., has a very recognizable T, too, and it pops up a bit more often and in many different parts of the world. The James Bond-themed bar and restaurant opened in the late '60s, and its black T-shirt with a white briefcase, handcuffs and the words "Safe House" have covered the backs of spy restaurant backers for decades. Today, variations of the shirt exist, but they still sport the classic briefcase logo as well.
Milwaukee's best bar gimmick, 2011: The Safe House password: If you are looking for bells and whistles OnMilwaukee.com readers said that the Safe House's password it the best bar gimmick in town. The world famous spy-themed bar at 779 N. Front St. has plenty of other quirky tricks up its sleeve, but if you don't know the password you are going to suffer some public humiliation to find out what they are.
"Gen Con's new owners say they love Milwaukee as much as Milwaukee loves the game-masters. "There's the tradition here, the sense of history about coming from this state. Now people come here and know to put on their navigators and head for Goolsby's or the Safe House..." says Susan Scheid, director of event marketing for Wizards of the Coast. "
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"For a dining experience that will make their eyes pop, why not take them to the Safehouse? Set up like a secret spy hideout, the place itself is entertainment enough...Accessed by an alley off Front Street...The walls are covered with spy memorabilia and photos of famous people who have eaten there. Quirky and inventive decorations provide for endless games of "I Spy" while you wait for your burgers and fries. When you're ready to leave, good luck finding one of the "secret" exits...prices are very reasonable. The Safehouse lets you keep the glass if you order special house drinks....even though the place is hard to find, it has been discovered by many others."
"Internationally recognized for its spy-cial drinks and food, set in the midst of a James Bond funhouse, is Milwaukee's own Safe House. Experiencing it is so intriguing, the mission begins before you even step inside"..."There's only so much we can say about the Safe House without giving away all the fun. Let's just say that if you haven't already been to this Milwaukee landmark, it's time to go. If you're looking for the perfect place to take out-of-town guests or are just searching for a unique dining experience that mixes entertainment and intrigue, the Safe House is for you. Featured in Time, Newsweek, People, Chicago Tribune and "Major League," the Safe House is a fun place to eat, drink and meet."
Top Clicks #1 -- Bars and Clubs
Top Ten Trivia for Foodies: What are the most unusual restaurants?
1. Most unusual restaurant: There's a spy theme in Milwaukee's Safe House
Shhh...the Safe House is Milwaukee's most intriguing nightspot. The Safe House is one of the most intriguing bars in this city that has no shortage of watering holes...professional and amateur spies alike will find gadgets and gizmos around every turn in the bar. Be careful, things aren't always what they seem… If you're looking for a good time in Milwaukee, look no farther than the Safe House.
Phoenix International Travel Examiner
Since 1966 when the Safe House opened, "Secret Agents" - as patrons are called - are supposed to find this place exactly the way I did: by word of mouth and then doing a little espionage. Now that I have found the Safe House, I am sworn as a Secret Agent that I cannot reveal its whereabouts. You have to find it just like I did. But look for the lady at the desk, and then you will know that "this is it."
We'd heard about it many times — you need a password to get in.. ..Believe us: we've been far more embarrassed than that. The bar itself is full of interesting nooks and gimmicks. The best part, though, is the Magic Bar, where a bartender performs fabulous tricks. Seriously: Michael Cuddyer needs to know about this place, and fast. The bartender ...turned our queen of diamonds into a nine of diamonds. He pulled our $20 bill out of a lemon. We will say no more.
The target customer is a fun-loving, alcohol-consuming adult. Sure, bring the kids here for lunch or early dinner; they'll love the place...And throwing a party here can mean the guest of honor is kidnapped, only to reappear ceremoniously through a trap door. Isn't public humiliation grand? We think so—and all too rare...Come on, this place has an over-the-top dedication to its spy theme, souvenirs to buy, and a long list of celebrities who've visited. Plus, that whole "we're so hard to find" thing just begs tourists to take on the challenge and wander blindly through downtown alleys.
...families shouldn't miss the Safe House. It's a little tricky to find, tucked into an alley, with just a small sign overhead. And once you find it, entry isn't all that easy — if you don't know the password, the doorkeeper demands that you perform a task. Once we got in, we toured the spy-themed restaurant, taking in movie memorabilia and also a tribute to genuine heroes of the Cold War. The building is also home to the nation's Press Club, and we had fun reading the autographs of journalists and cartoonists, along with signatures of U.S. Presidents and celebrities. Lastly, we enjoyed a magician's sleight of hand tricks, and of course, good food and fun drinks.
Cincinnati Family Magazine
"...what made me fall in love with Milwaukee so quickly from the beginning were all the little things that are exclusive to our city. Only in good old MKE can you find the Bronze Fonz, the Safe House.."
"...go to Safe House... to take an out-of-towner and have them balk when they don't know the password at the door. It's half the fun! This spy-themed restaurant/bar has TOURIST written all over it, but at least the "covert operation" thing doesn't exist just to sell T-shirts."
"...that rarest of things, a theme restaurant worth its salt."
Customers rated Safe House #1 in Digital City's Top Clicks.
More than 80 customer ratings gave Safe House 4.5 stars out of 5.
AOL City Guide
Proclamation: Henry Meier, Mayor of Milwaukee (1960 - 1988)
Proclamation: John Norquist, Mayor of Milwaukee (1988 - 2003)
Proclamation: Tom Barrett, Mayor of Milwaukee (2004 - present)
Resolution: City of Milwaukee Common Council
Award: 2002 Mayors Design Award