Kevin Bacon Meets his Match

In three characters or less, can you connect yourself to the popular actor Kevin Bacon? How about if I give you six characters? Or, we can go back to the standard version of the game (that was actually made into a board game, by the way) and ask that you use six movie actors and their films to draw a line between Kevin Bacon and what ever actor whose name you draw.

The Pfister should design such a board game. They can give Mr. Bacon a run for his money as more than A Few Good Men have passed through these hallowed halls. I’ve met people in the hotel who have had life long experiences here—beginning as a child, they have had traditions built around pizza, the holidays, the lions (now available as stuffed souvenirs in the new gift shop), teas and brunches. I’ve met those couples who share a regular date at the hotel or who met there. Others are introduced to the space through work, and name badge still attached testify “oh, yeah, I’m glad they booked the program here! I’ve never been here before!”

But in conjunction with my plein air tribute to AIR Shelby Keefe, I have to say, my favorite “Six Degrees of Pfister’” comes when the six degrees unite Milwaukee, past and present, local and newbie, to the hotel from outside its walls.

 Recently, I’ve met a young woman who just moved here from out of town. I invited her to join me at a dinner for a group of the oldest women in town—oldest women’s group in town, that is. Since 1894, the AAUW Milwaukee Branch has been creating historic moments and hosting speakers.

As this Newaukeean met with those steeped in the city’s history, recommendations for where to go, who to meet and what to join flew. As testimony to her own efforts at building roots, the Newaukeean explained she had participated with another professional organization she’d joined in town…at an event at Blu, “at the Pfister Hotel, have you ever been there?”

I couldn’t help but smile. I shared my Narrator card. We talked about the beauty of an event that starts during daylight hours and extends into evening and what happens to you when you witness that from 23 stories above the city. There are no Tremors up there, but great stories about times when Joan Rivers and the gang got Footloose. I explained my role and all that I’d seen so far in my tenure—I warned her “Many who report to you on Milwaukee are Flatliners, but don’t believe them. Sit at the Pfister and watch how much we love our community and how many people continue to return to it time and time again.”

I realized it’s not my new city anymore, it’s hers.

The Pfister has been my Kevin Bacon. Either someone says to me “hey, have you ever stopped for a drink at the Pfister? We were just there, it was great” and I have to explain it’s my home. Or, I become the lever for someone else, “You work with the Pfister? I was just invited to an event there and I’ve never been!” It’s the perfect connector in the city and it’s never had a flop. I dare you to play the game—are you at least three degrees from the Pfister Hotel? What’s amazing is, whether or not you’ve realized it yet, you are.

Historic Hotel Selects Next In-House Storyteller: Welcome, Stacie Williams.

The historic Pfister Hotel in downtown Milwaukee has named Stacie Michelle Williams as its second ‘Pfister Narrator.’ In the role, she will spend time in the hotel’s lobby, interviewing visitors and guests and sharing their stories on the Pfister’s blog (blog.thepfisterhotel.com). As narrator, she will be posting blog entries twice-per-week over a six-month period.

“To say I’m excited to be the next Pfister Narrator would be inaccurate and a little bit of an understatement,” says Williams. “More accurate would be to say that I’m a little nervous, as there’s great pressure in telling people’s stories with truth and honor. I am also more than excited, I’m thrilled: this is a chance to share the love of my adopted city of Milwaukee, to do so through such a beautiful historic establishment and via the voices of those who, often, like me, are not natives either.”

With a love of stories and storytelling, Williams has worked at a local Milwaukee bookstore for more than five years, and has experience in travel writing and blogging. She studied theater at University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee and is active in its creative writing program.

Williams was chosen to serve as narrator based on her writing style and outgoing personality from a significant pool of qualified applicants by a review panel, which included publisher of The Business Journal Serving Greater Milwaukee, Mark Sabljak; executive director of the East Town Association, Kate Borders; Judith Moriarty, a longtime local writer; and representatives from the hotel, including Julie Ferris, The Pfister’s first-ever narrator.

“We were thrilled with the success of the introduction of the narrator program last year,” says Joe Kurth, general manager of The Pfister Hotel. “Our guests have a special connection to The Pfister and interesting stories to tell—it has been wonderful sharing their unique experiences and backgrounds with the rest of Milwaukee and beyond.”

Williams will begin her stint as narrator on May 1, 2011. More information about the Pfister Narrator program can be found at www.ThePfisterHotel.com/Pfister-Narrator.

Meet Stacie Williams, our next Pfister Narrator

Get your Feet in Check at WELL Spa + Janice Salon [VIDEO]

With warmer weather and the festival season approaching quickly, ambulance their is a pressing need to go and get you feet in check for Flip-Flop season.

Follow Joshua Wolter as he checks his feet into WELL Spa + Salon at the Pfister Hotel.

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Plein Air Office Space

I try not to write about the staff. They’re an easy target—each is polished, ampoule professional and full of juicy bits of knowledge. They’re the eyes and ears. But we, the “in-residencers” are also staff in a way, but with the very specific charge to engage and make the hotel colorful.

So, what I’m trying to say is, pilule I have to tell you about hanging out with Shelby Keefe, the new Artist in Residence. A program different (and longer) than the narrator, Shelby’s work life will live at the Pfister for a full year. She has a giant, glass-walled fish bowl to work in and be ogled, which is why I thought it was charming when she said “Where is your office?”

And thus began the explanation of how I don’t have walls to paint or works of art to hang…and only for a minute did I feel a bit strange explaining my office was in the bar…because truly, it is. Have notebook will travel…but that’s not all that different from this woman who also conducts most of her art work in the outdoors.

Shelby was moving into her new studio and it’s a world apart from the life Katie brought to the space. You’ll notice immediately the change in subject matter and color. Shelby chose the same direction for her easel and stool, however, and I wondered if it was naturally feng shui or just the most convenient corner of the space.

What you need to know about Shelby, however, is how ready she is for this gig. She’ll be there late. She’ll be there often, she’s not afraid of the people, she can’t wait for them (or, so she thought until she gulped and realized the very next day they’d be arriving). Her work is full of color and the day we chatted her shirt matched at least three of the paintings on the wall, which made it feel like when I stepped in to introduce myself amid her hammering and unpacking, I had fallen into a color palette. She laughed at what I noticed, given what I suspect was a talented artist’s version of “oh, this old thing?”

She’s eager. She’s also ready to show you what her art means; she was bursting with energy as she explained how she enjoys people watching her art demos and what her performance painting would be like. (I got to see the special brushes. I’d say you could be jealous, but you can see them too—just stop in her studio).

Shelby was a lot like me. I felt that vibe, that readiness. I hope she knows just what she’s gotten into, because what she’ll get out of it is more than she’ll ever know.

In honor of Shelby, who I found has a friend in common with me—another unique performer in the Milwaukee area—I think I may adopt some plein air writing to match her painting. I end up having the best conversations with guests on the elevators and in the parking garage, why not out in front of the hotel on warm spring days? Come find me there next week and we’ll capture the open air joy of the Pfister and its amazing and colorful staff, and welcome, Shelby!

Meet ‘n Greet Monday! Do you know Jessica?

Jessica ~ Assistant Front Office Manager

Well it’s Meet ‘n Greet Monday! While the Pfister Hotel has housed many celebrities over the years, the true stars are our staff. Every week you will meet a member of our staff, and have your chance to share your memories and interactions with them. Today, it’s the traveling girl, Jessica, our Assistant Front Office Manager.

Name – Jessica

Position – Assistant Front Office Manager

How long have you worked at the Pfister Hotel? – 2 years this summer.

Why do you like working at the Pfister Hotel? –  I love the interaction.  Giving guests a high energy, warm welcome and helping them to be sure they know they made the right decision in choosing the Pfister.  It’s a fun, personal challenge that I get to relive all day.  I love having a lobby full of guests and clearing it out in 10 minutes when there had just been a line to the door.  I love making celebrations more special, getaways more relaxing, business trips more tolerable, and the guest experience more personal overall.

What’s your favorite Pfister memory? – I have many fun memories even during my short time here, so it is difficult to choose.  One of my favorite memories was the tour I took with one of our engineers, experiencing both roof top views, fun ghost stories from one of our storage areas that house old furniture and art, and all the fun hidden closets and rooms that come with a historic building.  The highlight was when we accidentally locked ourselves in one of the storage closets and were incessantly mocked by a few colleagues. All in good fun, of course.

Tell us something we don’t know about you? – During my two years living abroad in Asia I hitch-hiked across the Laos/Cambodia border, and the Laos/China border.  I also probably should have died in at least one of the motorcycle accidents I was in during that time.

What is the oddest/weirdest request that you have ever gotten from a guest? – After having ordered room service, a guest called fro thir left-overs to be picked up.  They asked that I please find a homeless person, or a stray animal to give them too.  They did not want it to go to waste.  Always such nice people staying with us here.

Thank you Jessica for being a participant on Meet ‘n Greet Monday.

Have you met Jessica before?  Tell us a story about meeting her.  Thank you so much for being fans of the Pfister Hotel, and look forward to a new person to meet every Monday.

Scaling Forward

I’m a Libra. Some of you may have already guessed as much. One of our best qualities is indecision. Our symbol is the scales because we try to be fair and just.

I was happy to share indecision Thursday with my colleagues at the Pfister as we looked at the six finalists for the Narrator position to begin in May.

Choosing your replacement is a difficult task. Many of us would choose…well, medicine us.

But I’ve heard, and believe it’s true, that “if you’re not replaceable, you’re not promotable.” But of course, this is where our debate formed. Who is promotable? All of the candidates were writers, storytellers and engaging people, illness in a word, all could narrate. Who should get promoted to Narrator, however, was the big question.

There were so many amazing things to see and read. I loved the videos of the candidates, not just for their film quality (thanks April and Pete; and by the way candidates, they made you look fantastic) but because for weeks, we’ve only known these people on paper. We’ve conjured images of them in the lobby, we’ve envisioned them drinking one of Val’s bloody Marys, retelling (or trying to) her amazing recipe. We’ve seen them on the threshold of a summer wedding gala, documenting it all.

But we never saw them in person. Here they were, up close, chattering, nervous, excited and to their credit…bursting with ideas. That alone became a fantastic qualifier for each of them. Do we choose based on who is bringing profile-writing experience, literary experience or pure unadulterated energy to the position? Or should we evaluate based on how they talked about the hotel? Do they like the art, the history, the beauty or the things it houses?

I think the committee members should each be responsible for a blog too, or we should have been filmed (I’m cringing as I say this… unsure if I’ll keep my new friends when this gets published). Facial reactions, oohs and ahhs, “great idea” “I didn’t think of that” “oh, I like her” and more resonated from our select corner of the newly remodeled café where Starbucks flowed among us but the really energy came from drinking in the vibrant options before us.

We just couldn’t choose.

That’s a compliment, candidates.

For me, listening to their plans and ideas was rejuvenating and hard—there’s so much left to tell and my time is growing short. That’s the beauty of it though, there’s no shortage of stories. The Pfister provides: in every guest a novel, in every event a sense of scene.

We did choose. We chose well; and we considered the charming smile, the great colors, the wonderfully themed sample piece, the pictures, the youth, the wisdom, the experience, the salesmanship, the recommendations, the effervescence, the technology, the reading list, the Pfister favorites, the drive, the energy…the embodiment of a Narrator.

This Libra is proud to say her scales of indecision, out of balance all afternoon, finally teetered into agreement. Soon, you too will meet our Narrator and see just how decisively she will compliment the hotel and document its story.

Artist-in-Residence: Katie’s Farewell Reception

With Katie’s time with us at the Pfister Hotel coming to an end, we’re sad to bid her adieu. But not without the proper send-off.

Watch as Katie shares the legacy she leaves with us at the Pfister Hotel with her commissioned piece of Dr. Jeffery Hollander and provides some valuable insight for the next Artist-in-Residence, Shelby Keefe.

Thank you for gracing us with your presence this past year, Katie!

The NASA Game

I’ve done a lot of organizational consulting and training. Among the structures for company retreats and more is a ropes or games course. Every one I’ve ever done says start small–ice breakers and get to know you type work.

One of the games my organization and later, I, used in classes was the NASA game. There are a million versions of the activity, but this one reads that NASA has to populate the moon. Earth is on its last legs and we’ve got a 2001-type opportunity to go intergalactic. The game provides a list of various people and things and then gives you a limited number to select to bring. The exercise forces team members to hash out which person gets to go–and who you have to leave behind… Much like the “you’re stranded on a desert island and can only bring three things, what do you bring?” exercise friends may play, the game forces hard choices.

I feel like I’m leaving the Pfister for the moon. I don’t have time enough left to do all I want and I have to make choices about what to take with me. I feel certain I’m taking it all with me, make no mistake, but what stories do I use to propel out of this atmosphere?

There are hundreds of ways to eat and drink and enjoy the space. Business meetings to wedding affairs, romantic dates to happy hours…I know what I see and I’m selfishly cataloging all of it–but which should I be sharing that I haven’t yet? Is it the jilted lover? The proposing young man? The road weary Miller-esque traveler? Just as Hal asks, “will I dream?” I’m here to tell you I already do, and in the last month I want to be sure I’m sharing the right ones with you.

Comment below and tell me what stories you think have floated through the hotel and have yet to be captured.

Celebrating 100 posts! Comment Lottery Winners

Thank you to everyone who participated in our comment lottery on the Pfister Blog.

We received a lot of great comments and appreciate the fantastic feedback and personal stories involving the Hotel. Julie, our Pfister Narrator was thrilled to see the great comments on her stories.

And now the winners.

  1. Sonia Zilvitis
  2. JoJo Sook
  3. Brenda Esselman
  4. Rosie
  5. Shelly
  6. Feisty pfister
  7. Tim R.
  8. Wendy
  9. Tina 2284
  10. Andy Tillman

You’ll be receiving a message shortly with instructions on how to claim your prize.

Thank you again for participating and we hope you visit us again soon and read the great stories from the hotel.

Meet ‘n Greet Monday! Do you know Jeff?

Well it’s Meet ‘n Greet Monday! While the Pfister Hotel has housed many celebrities over the years, the true stars are our staff. Every week you will meet a member of our staff, and have your chance to share your memories and interactions with them. Today, it’s the man of day is, Jeff, our Security Supervisor.

Name – Jeff

Position – Security Supervisor

How long have you worked at the Pfister Hotel? – For 19 years, since 1991.

Why do you like working at the Pfister Hotel? –  Interacting with amazing and interesting guests ~ working within a wonderfully historic building.

What’s your favorite Pfister memory? – During the Centennial event ceremony held in 1993, the GM asked me to place the cover on the time capsule in the lobby.  It’s to bad that I won’t be here on May 1, 2093 when someone opens the capsule.  Well maybe my grandsons will be here.

Tell us something we don’t know about you? – Even though I am a mere 5′ 5″ tall, I coached freshman, junior varsity, and varsity high school basketball for several years.

What is the oddest/weirdest request that you have ever gotten from a guest? – We offer in-room safes so guests can protect valuable property. They are bolted to a cabinet.  A guest asked me to move it, because he wanted more room to hang his slacks.  Needless to say, we provided him with a secondary rack.

Have you met Jeff before?  Tell us a story about meeting him.  Thank you so much for being fans of the Pfister Hotel, and look forward to a new person to meet every Monday.