Leo and Leona

The hall was once a ballroom owned by Leo and Leona Cavadini. The story of the tavern has been told before in OnMilwaukee.com Beyond columns. Leona Cavadini lived above the tavern and helped operate it for more than 60 years. Her parents first owned it, and then she and her late husband, Leo, ran it.

The bar became a hangout for many of the NFL football players who trained in Wisconsin during the Cheese League days. One of the best stories about those days concerned former Bears Dick Butkus, who frequented the place.

Leo and Leona were huge Packers fans and sold a T-shirt with the familiar saying, "Da Bears Suck." After he had been coming into the bar for quite some time, Butkus asked Leo if he could remove the shirt, since, after all, he'd played for the Bears.

Leo, a former WWII bomber pilot, reportedly got into Butkus face and said, "Hell no; it's my best seller, and the Bears do suck!" Butlus backed off with a smile.

The legend of the bar goes well beyond those Cheese League days and tells the tale of a place that really did become an institution in the region of the state and for people from eastern Minnesota and Iowa.

The new owners, made up primarily of people who loved the old place and couldn't stand to see it go, bought the bar after Leona decided to retire. They fixed it up and opened the bar in 2008.

With the help of Amish craftsmen, they renovated the ballroom, which had become a storage room for some great sports, tavern and other memorabilia. Much of those items have been sold via an auction and a La Crosse collectibles store. But, some of it has been returned to the walls of the concert hall.

The place has a real feel of a traditional roadhouse. It also is right on the road, off Highway 33, east of La Crosse, in a tiny place called Newburg Corners.