Questioning the Locals | Mike Richardson

get to know your neighbors

V1 Staff |



WHO: Mike Richson
Bartender at Houligan’s
Eau Claire’s North Side Hill
On and off since 1964

Bartenders come up at the V1 office every so often, and while Menas (Joynt) and Dez (House of Rock) are frequent talking points, so was this really cool dude at Houligan’s that no one really knew. He’s a master of chit-chat, knows a lot about the libations, and just seems cool – so we thought we’d get to know him a bit. Turns out he’s been a musician in the area since the 60s, most prominently with The Mickey Larson Band and most recently with BeFors. But wait, there’s more ...

What place considers you a regular?

Probably Houligan’s and The Elbow Room.

What frustrates you about the Valley?

I can always say something obvious like gas prices, but I won’t. So I’ll say parking downtown. So many people come down and say, “There’s no place to park; what’s going on?”

What was the best cultural experience you’ve had here?

Being outdoors. I’ve always loved that about the Valley. There’s plenty of outdoor activities. I was actually one of the first people involved in FATFAR. It was 49 people that first year. All artists and musicians. It was a good day.

What’s your favorite local festival? 

It used to be Sawdust City Days. That was always a fun one. Describe your last encounter with the police. Getting pulled over for having an unclear windshield. I got a verbal warning.

Death bed, one meal from a local restaurant, what would it be?

A ribeye at Houligan’s done prosciutto style with a gorgonzola cheese sauce.

Water Street or downtown?

Downtown, although I’ve spent many many hours at The Joynt. I kind of grew up in that place.

Old-fashioned sweet or sour?


What book would you recommend to members of city council?

I’m reading one right now called Bait & Switch – about professionals looking for a new job at the midlife level. It’s by Barbara Ehrenreich. I’m an avid reader. Lots of hardcovers, and lots signed even.

What’s your favorite piece of local trivia? 

That Henry Aaron started here. I played a lot of baseball in Carson Park, and I’ve had an opportunity to go back in a different manner – performing before the Cavaliers games with Larry Heagle.

Favorite Oakwood Mall store?

Scheels. I love trout fishing.

What part of town have you never visited?

I haven’t been to the Paul Bunyan Camp. I don’t know why, but I haven’t.

Who is your favorite Wisconsinite?

Sen. William Proxmire. He just worked hard for the people in the state of Wisconsin.

What sort of economic development would you like to see in our area?

Right now technology and medicine are big ones, but I’d like to see more upscale restaurants, definitely. Right now you can practically count the amount of real restaurants on one hand.

If you could magically add one store, restaurant, or shop to the area, what would it be and why? 

A Penzeys Spices. I use them almost exclusively. They’re based out of Milwuakee, and unfortunately I don’t think you can get a franchise unless you’re a family member.

Who’d make a better martini: Tom Cruise in Cocktail or Ted Danson in Cheers?

Ted Danson

What drink or shot is your fallback recommendation for a customer?

A cosmopolitan. You can’t go wrong. It tastes good, looks good …

How about small-talk topics?

You can always go to sports or, lately, the political situation in the state. You can count on that getting people going.

What’s your favorite bartender tip or trick? For instance, I learned the cure-all for hiccups and a brain teaser with toothpicks.

I’m a jokester. I’ve got a million of them.

Since no one ever asks you, what is your drink of choice, sir?

Whiskey and seven with Windsor Canadian.