New manager brings ‘buzz’ to Water Street bar

Demo discusses managing his bar, his studies and his social life



Demo having a good time behind the bar.

It’s 8:30 p.m. on a Tuesday night on Water Street, most of the bars are closed or nearly empty, but one is alive, packed with smiling employees and customers alike. 

Tyler Demo is a fifth-year information systems student and the newest general manager of Brother’s bar in Eau Claire.

Brother’s is a chain, founded in 1990 in La Crosse but now has locations in seven states, according to its website.

The website says “We take our work seriously but we also take a serious poke at having fun too.” Demo said he has taken this philosophy and put his own spin on it.

According to Demo, he began his tenure with Brother’s at the end of the summer, leaving another Water Street bar — and rival of Brother’s — the Pickle.

Upon taking over as manager, Demo said the bar has seen a significant increase in sales numbers.

“The previous best month was in 2018,” Demo said. “We beat it last month.”

Joe Zak, fourth-year Marketing analytics and management student, called Brother’s “the spot to be.”

“Seeing Brother’s now compared to two years ago, this dude is doing something right,” Zak said. “He’s doing stuff that no other bar in Eau Claire is doing.”

Demo has made a number of changes to the business since coming aboard. He mentioned weekly specials, events, personnel changes, social media presence and giveaways.

The weekly specials and events are intended to bring in customers all week instead of exclusively on weekends, Demo said.

Brother’s is closed on Sunday and Monday each week for Demo to clean, perform repairs and other administrative responsibilities.

The doors then open Tuesday through Saturday with various drink deals and events.

“Tuesday is trivia day,” Demo said. “We bring in Woody’s — a third-party company that does trivia at other locations — then give away gift cards to the top three teams.”

Wednesday is Brother’s ‘mug club.’ Demo said the Pickle also has a mug club on the same night, but he switched things up, allowing customers to bring any mug they want — including mugs from the Pickle.

Thursday is ‘pitcher night,’ when customers can get pitchers for $5 or less.

Demo said weekends are his chance to plan events, such as opening Brother’s doors at 10 a.m. during ‘Picklepalooza’ and ‘Pickle Christmas,’ holiday parties and more.

During this year’s Halloween weekend, Brother’s played host to two performances from ‘Chatarunga,’ a local band made up of UW-Eau Claire students, including Zak.

“He reached out to us, which has never really happened before,” Zak said. “Throughout the whole thing we felt valued, and I think he’s got a way of doing that with anyone who walks through Brother’s doors.”

Zak and Demo both referenced social media when discussing Brother’s. Demo has been posting memes, advertising events and sharing pictures and videos taken by and featuring customers on Instagram and Tik Tok.

Demo’s philosophy is that customers seeing themselves on Instagram will make them happy and keep them coming back, new customers will see their friends and peers having fun and want to join in.

Demo admitted that, while he appreciates the credit, it’s not his alone. He cited his staff as a big component of Brother’s newfound success.

He said there are a few things he looks for in employees, including work ethic, personability and a positive attitude. Finding people with those traits has been pivotal towards the bar’s recent popularity.

According to Demo, running a bar is a full-time job. He’s forced to balance running a bar with his schedule as a student, which he says has been surprisingly easy.

“It makes me more motivated,” Demo said. “I’m doing something I love outside the classroom, as well as following interests inside (the classroom.)”

One challenge Demo has experienced is balancing his work life and social life. His friends are also his customers and employees, which he said is a double-edged sword.

“My roommate used to work for me, but he left to do other things,” Demo said. “It was frustrating as a manager, but as his roommate and friend, I can’t be mad at him for doing what he wants.”

When dealing with having customers that double as friends, Demo said it’s important for him to stay unbiased. He’d like to give them free drinks or special treatment but forces himself not to due to other customers and the bar’s bottom line.

Demo said he doesn’t want to alienate customers he doesn’t know as well, and he doesn’t want to lose too much money each night. He said every free drink his friends get is one less drink’s worth of profit.

Although Demo said he has been bartending for years, managing a bar and running social media pages has been a welcomed, exciting addition to his life.

According to Demo, managing a bar has changed his life. He’s made friends and built a life for himself on Water Street, as well as made plans for the future.

Demo said he plans to finish school, then move to Texas with a friend of his with the end goal of opening their own bar.

“I like what I’m doing in school, but I love what I’m doing at Brother’s,” Demo said.