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One-stop entertainment at Tapped on the Lakeshore

Two Rivers establishment located across the street from Lake Michigan

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April 18, 2024

TWO RIVERS – What started out as a conversation among friends about how to provide a space where all generations could spend time together has since evolved into a one-stop for entertainment in the City of Two Rivers.

Tapped on the Lakeshore (3115 Memorial Drive) – not surprisingly located across the street from Lake Michigan – has 24 craft beers on tap, a variety of domestic bottle beers, a wine selection, spiked seltzers and a limited liquor selection – not to mention the plethora of games available.

“We’ve been here about five-and-a-half years now,” Co-owner Sam Busse said. “Our goal has never been to be that corner bar – we want people to come in here, play some games, connect with others on a more personal level, maybe have a beer and have fun.”

How it began
Busse said Tapped was loosely inspired by a similar establishment in Florida that the original owners (Craig Pautz and Jolene McMahon) previously visited.

“One of the things Craig always said about that Florida space is, ‘there were multiple generations of families – father, son, grandfather connecting through playing games,'” he said. “There wasn’t a TV in the place, and people weren’t sitting on their electronic devices – it was people connecting with others. That was the goal he (and Jolene) strived for with Tapped.”

Busse said he and his wife became partners in the business about two years ago.

Tapped has 24 craft beers, a variety of other alcoholic drinks and games to connect patrons, Co-owner Sam Busse said. Submitted Photo

Though the couple only got involved in the ownership a couple of years ago, Busse said his involvement with Tapped goes further back.

“I worked for Craig and Jolene for about two years, even before COVID-19,” he said. “I was an axe coach here – that’s partially what led me to become co-owner.”

Location, location, location
Being located across the street from the third-largest Great Lake (in terms of surface area) is something Busse said he doesn’t take for granted.

“You can’t beat the view,” he said. “I try every day not to take for granted the fact we have an unobstructed view across the street from Lake Michigan. Looking out from the Two Rivers shoreline, you’ve got Manitowoc on the other end of the view – it surely is beautiful with the lake.”

Many Tapped patrons, Busse said, take advantage of the beauty of the location.

“People can pull some games (like cornhole) outside when the weather is nice and enjoy the day,” he said. “We also have a fenced patio with some windbreaks, so even if a breeze comes off the lake making it cooler – Two Rivers equals cooler by the lake – people can utilize the patio in the summer.”

Even though the Manitowoc/Two Rivers area has several microbreweries and a “great retro arcade,” Busse said he doesn’t view them as competition.

“Between Manitowoc and Two Rivers, we’ve got four micro-breweries,” he said. “I don’t consider any of them competition because I sell all their beers on my tap line and know all the brewers at most of those places – they’re all good people and we support one another in what we’re doing.”

As far as a combination of games and craft beer, Busse said “there’s nothing else in the area that does what we do and has what we do.”

What Tapped offers
Not wanting to be known as your ordinary corner bar, Busse said even Tapped’s alcohol optionsgive patrons a good variety.

“We are a full bar,” he said. “A lot of people might not realize that – they see the craft beer, and that’s what we tend to focus on (with the alcohol side of things). I’m a beer guy and have been a homebrewer for years – though a little less now because the craft beer market has been so populated with so many good beers. It’s cheaper for me to buy a good beer compared to what I could make at home. We do not do any brewing on-site – I simply promote the craft beer industry by showcasing the professionals who are craft brewers.”

Tapped also has axe throwing – an activity that Busse said has seen rapid growth in recent years.

Tapped on the Lakeshore has four separate axe-throwing targets set up in two lanes – a pair of targets in each lane. Submitted Photo

“Axe throwing is a big draw for Tapped,” he said. “We were one of the first in the state to have axe throwing. We have four separate targets here set up in two lanes – a pair of targets in each lane.”

For those new to axe throwing, Busse said Tapped provides pointers to newcomers to help get them started.

“We’ll give them some coaching and set them up into teams and play games,” he said. “What sets us apart a little bit there, is it’s not simply a single target in a lane – we have that side-by-side competition going on. Additionally, we keep an axe coach with that group while they are throwing – mainly for coaching and safety issues.”

Tapped, Busse said, also has a plethora of games – including cornhole, soccer pool, giant Jenga, shuffleboard, pool, darts, giant Connect 4, a few pinball machines, Skee-Ball, a few board/card games and a game called hammerschlagen.

“The giant shuffleboard at Tapped is one the largest ones I have seen,” Busse said. Submitted Photo

“Hammerschlagen is a popular choice at Tapped,” he said. “There’s a 16- or 18-inch-round stump and you get a nail – we have nails at the bar. Each person gets a nail, you take a hammer and you take turns pounding that nail in one stroke at a time. The first person to pound their nail in all the way wins the game. To make it more challenging, you’re typically not using the head of the hammer but the claw side.”

Another unique aspect of Tapped, Busse said, is its free pool.

“The pool table in Tapped was donated to us by Tanya (Pautz’s) grandfather when he passed away,” he said. “He wanted her to have that table – he was very involved in the veteran’s community. There’s no pay slot on the table, so instead of making it free, we ask you – we work with local veteran’s organizations – whatever you think it’s worth to shoot a game or two of pool, we’ll collect that donation and give it to the local veteran’s organizations.”

While Tapped offers frozen pizzas made locally by Sandy Bay Pizza, Busse said “patrons are more than welcome to bring in their own food.”

For more information on Tapped, visit tappedonthelakeshore.com.

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