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Judge's Beyond The Reef , Brookfield, WI (restaurant)

Pages: 1 44 replies

Name:Judge's Beyond The Reef
Street:16590 W. North Avenue

I first saw the Judge's Beyond the Reef restaurant in the Book of Tiki. I finally got the matchbook in a trade with Bail Tekey. I have not seen much information on this place, nothing even listed in Tiki Road Trip II.

As Sven described it, a Tiki restaurant attached to a log cabin!

The reverse side of the matchbook with some nice tapa.

This crazy looking character was the signature logo.

I have seen a black matchbook.

An Ashtray

And this postcard on Critiki from Tikinaut.

So, Brookfield, Wisconsin had two Tiki joints, Beyond the Reef and the famous Leilani.


Maybe Lake Surfer can dig up some more info on Beyond the Reef.


One of the all-time greatest Poly pop matchbooks! I always wondered if those doorway statues were Hawaiian Tikis with tall headdresses, and the artist just did not know how to render them, or they really were those Asian-type natives carved in wood as they are in the renderings.

The owner of Judge's Beyond the Reef was Robert Judge. It was in operation from at least 1964 until it was sold and turned into El Sombrero Mexican Buffet in 1987.

October 9, 1964 edition of the Milwaukee Sentinel.

June 12, 1987 edition of the Milwaukee Sentinel.

During my research I found Jim and Lisa Dutcher, owners of the "Tip Top Atomic Shop" in Milwaukee, WI. They own a mug from Judge's and were nice enough to send me this picture.

Does anyone recognize the mug makers logo/initials?

Vintage Judge's Beyond the Reef tiki mug.

Mug maker initials.

Wow, cool find! That's a very rare mug. It COULD possibly be a likeness of those entrance statues, making them more likely humanoid, not Ku or Lono-like.


Great research, that mug is a first for me. It needs to go over on the Crypto Mug page. Thanks for the posts.


Thanks BigBro,DC.

Here are several newspaper ads I recently found. Notable info is the adds identify three separate areas of the restaurant. The "Banyan Room" for dinning, the Reef Bar and Starlite Lounge for drinks.

The last one also shows us the tropical drinks served. The Chee Chee, Rum Cooler, Sneaky Tiki, Fog cutter, Kalypso, Kona somethin?, Mai Tai, Blue Hawaii, Whaler Grog and Yellow Beard. Some are well known and some are more obscure or maybe original to Judge's.

The Milwaukee Sentinel, Aug. 3rd 1979

The Milwaukee Sentinel, June 13th 1967

The Milwaukee Journal, Feb. 13th 1979


I saw the mug pictured a few posts back and it reminded me of this old mug I picked up while around Seattle quite a few years ago:

I didn't really think too much of it when I first saw it in the store but it was labeled as "Tiki Mug" so I picked it up. It was only a few dollars so I didn't mind that much.

It's got more of a hobbyist feel to it for sure but it's very close to the one above. It does have some extra line details and the features aren't as crisp. There are no markings on the base and it has a unique almost gold colored metallic glaze to it.


Taboo Dan,

You are looking back now and thinking that was a good idea to pick up the strange looking Tiki mug!

I scored one of the large postcards from Judges' Beyond the Reef, so time for some close ups.

The Reef Bar and Lounge bar, with the log cabin beams intact. If you squint your eyes and imagine hard enough they could be giant bamboo poles! The mural scene is from Kihei Beach on Maui (see below).

The Banyan Tree dining room with the Hukilau Sailboat salad bar.

The strange logo tiki figure,

Here is the back of the card with more info on the owner and the various rooms in the restaurant. There was a Wiki-Wiki bar and a Hawaiian dress and gift shop.


I picked up this matchbox from Judge's Beyond the Reef that lists a second restaurant location at Kehei Beach on Maui.

The painting on the matchbox is from the mural in the Brookfield restaurant.

Given that the Judge's appeared to have owned a house or property at Kehei Beach, it is likely that the Hawaii listing on the matchbox was pure romance.

Although I did find two business listings in Hawaii for Judge's Beyond the Reef; one for retail sales shop and one for a real estate business, both on Maui.




abstractiki's research previously established that the period of operation for Judge's Beyond the Reef was from at least 1964 to a definite ending by 1987 when the business was sold and converted to a Mexican restaurant.

I found an article that points to a much earlier start in 1958, plus a note on the owners' source of inspiration...

The Milwaukee Sentinel May 19, 1958


Nice work TTD.

meega posted on Tue, Jul 26, 2011 8:38 AM

I just acquired this statue on ebay. I haven't received it yet, but says it's about 12" tall(I assume with base), and has "arnel's NAH 71" on the bottom of the base.. I don't know if that's the name of a company or the sculptor, or if the 71 is a date. There is definitely some connection to the Judge's mug because the design is so unique.

[ Edited by: meega 2011-07-28 15:33 ]

meega posted on Thu, Jul 28, 2011 3:35 PM

As a follow-up to my last posting, I just got my package in the mail today. The statue is only about 10" tall, minus the base, about 8-1/2", and around 3" wide. The glaze is not nearly as blue as the picture shows....more grayish- blue & mottled and has a somewhat satiny finish. Also the bottom looks like it says "NAH 61", and not 71. It is a lot more like the Judge's mug, in that it lacks the added facial definition & cheek scars that the second mug exhibits. If you lopped off the top you'd have a mug, not a real big one, but it looks like someone copied somebody between the three, unless all three were the same designer.

[ Edited by: kenbo-jitsu 2011-08-01 22:00 ]

meega posted on Mon, Aug 29, 2011 9:33 AM

Below is a Judge's Beyond the Reef Menu I picked up. It is not a dinner menu, but more of an appetizer/cocktail menu for the bar or lounge crowd. It has no street address, phone number, or date to fit into a time line, but some of the drinks like the Sneaky Tiki, Rum Cooler, Whaler's Grog, Kona Breeze, Fog Cutter, Kalypso, Mai Tai are also listed in the 1979 Milwaukee Journal ad listed above. Another drink on the menu....the Bosa Nova Cocktail sounds awfully 60ish, and I'm not sure the term even made the 70's lexicon. Of course that doesn't mean the the cocktails didn't outlive the mainstream music's popularity. Price-wise $1.35 for an egg roll isn't far off from current prices around here if they mean "per".....$1 for a shrimp cocktail seems pretty cheap. $1.75 for a Mai tai is a lot cheaper than a $7 or $8 current local price.

Also, about the bluish statue above......the "arnel's" marking, as near as I can figure out, was(or still is) the manufacturer of plaster slip-cast molds for ceramics industry. I don't know what their market was/is, but it seems to some degree ceramic classes might be one. I haven't been able to nail down much about there history, but I think I saw where they've been around since the early 50's, but it looks like Mackies has taken over their inventory.

Some listings I've seen had ID'd the extra markings as the artist/painter/glazer intitials + date, and some with personalized messages carved in as well. There seems to a lot from the 70's.........mushroom themes looked pretty popular, owls, lots of pitchers, cups, mugs, steins, cookie jars, canisters, as well as various figures including Asian & African, so it is concievable that back in the day they offered Polynesian styles. I have seen some primitive stuff, but no actual tiki as yet.

Originally I thought the "Judge's" mug may have been from a more generic primitive or African collection. The rarity factor may be that they were a limited castings by a friend, or possibly even Peggy Judge, or Norma Schuster in a ceramics class, which were somewhat popular at that time.....I remember my mother's ceramic poddle collection from classes. Another thing I noticed, but can't tell for sure, is it looks like "Judge's" & initialing is painted on, rather than scribed in like most of what I've seen on arnel's castings.

However the menu above only has one drink that says served with a mug - the Sneaky Tiki, with a "Hand Designed Ceramic Tiki for you to Keep to remember the Occasion." So they must have been made in some quantity in order to advertise a give away item.

Thanks for taking the time to share your research and thought processes on this subject. Making assumptions and theorizing about these ephemera often turns out to be fact as more findings surface.

Great find and history. Makes you think that there must be some more souvenir mugs out there with the Judge's logo.


[ Edited by: Dustycajun 2011-08-29 22:51 ]

I remember going there as a child with my grandparents and aunt and her Hawaiian husband. I wish I had more specific memories of the experience, but I think I was about 6 years old.

meega posted on Thu, Sep 1, 2011 2:48 PM

I kind of feel obligated share whatever I can find. I live near Brookfield, Wisconsin, plus Judge's was my introduction into Polynesian Pop back in the late 50's-early 60's, and even I have a hard time finding information on these places. I had taken them for granted until I realized that they just vanished, almost without a trace.

I was around 12 or 13 when I first went there, but the memories are still just as fleeting. My best friends mother was a waitress at Judge's at the time, and if memory serves me, the standard uniform was a flowery Hawaiian blouse tied at the waist, black or white Capri pants, and a large flower hair clip. What I remember about the restaurant itself was that the entrance was flanked with a couple of palm trees that I always thought were fake, but after hearing the Leilani planned on using real ones, was never really quite sure of. Entering from the hot late summer, early evening I was was hit with a wall of darkness, a wave of Hawaiian music, the scent of exotic food, and the epiphany that the gentle breeze of a tropical paradise was some very much appreciated air-conditioning.

I think I remember some sort of grotto by the waitress station just inside....lava rock, maybe shells or carvings scattered about, not sure about running water. If there was a bar near the entrance, I don't remember seeing it. The dining area was dimly lit....mostly by table lamps/candles plus other indirect lighting. Light enough not to stumble around in, but dark enough to qualify as romantic (by my standards at the time), and not the stark lighting of the postcard on the previous page. I remember there was artwork & other artifacts on the walls, but with the dim lighting, and the sensory overload, not to mention the decades that have passed, I don't really remember much of the details. I do remember the salad bar was a sailboat(seen in the postcard photos), bottomless refills on the "Kiddie Cocktails", and all of us kids were given a tiki charm.....I believe they were all different, but this is was what mine looked like:

I remember it being more Hawaiian/Island themed than tiki.


Here is a napkin and menu


Welcome back and thanks for posting from your collection.

The Judge's certainly embraced the Tiki Transmission Tradition in their menu art, borrowing heavily from Trader Vic's Outrigger Restaurant in Seattle.


Trader Vic's Outrigger


Trader Vic's Outrigger.

Hope you are doing well and look forward to seeing more posts from your collection.


meega posted on Wed, Sep 7, 2011 4:17 PM

Thanks for posting the menu Pa'akiki - it's a great addition to this thread, and the first full menu I've seen so far. I wish whoever posted the original cover on the Arkiva Tropika site would have scanned & posted the contents as well. I also have one of the cocktail napkins, and I think those and both our menus are post Judge's era, with yours being somewhat later as the prices have almost doubled, plus a change in the cocktail lineup- no "Sneaky Tiki", but the addition the PiƱa Colada, possibly the influence of Rupert Holme's "Escape" song from the late 70's/early'80's.

I've noticed(took me long enough) that the long Matchbook, the Arkiva Tropika menu cover[same tapa design as the matchbook], the mug, and the ashtray are all labeled Judge's "Beyond the Reef", everything else is just "Beyond the Reef". The small article from the October 9, 1964 edition of the Milwaukee Sentinel was the last to name the restaurant Judge's "Beyond the Reef", the following ad from the January 21st 1966 edition of the Milwaukee Journal has it listed as just "Beyond the Reef".

Robert and Peggy Judge were the original owners of the "Beyond the Reef" restaurant at 16590 West North Avenue, Brookfield, WI., as well as one in Kihei Beach, Maui, Hawai(circa 1958-196???)
As stated in the 1958 Milwaukee Sentinel article, The log cabin look of the building was do to its "old country dance hall" origins. The A-frame entrance w/palms was the dash Polynesia they felt its makeover needed. From the sound of the article it opened up in 1958, although it was in the planning since their 1954 Hawaiian vacation. Nothing much on their Maui venture has turned up yet, however the back of the postcard hand dated 1963 does mention the mural in connection to their Hawaiian restaurant & their Maui matchbook their Brookfield operation, so it can be assumed both existed together for at least part of those years.

The second owner/operator of the "Beyond the Reef" was Frank E.Schuster and his wife Norma who took over sometime in the mid-late sixties until selling to another restaurant chain in the later eighties.
Frank Schuster died on Jan. 2, 1999

From the 1980 Milwaukee Journal article below, the singer says he's been singing at the restaurant since around 1966. Which is probably around the time the Schusters took it over.


Musician strolls
to a different beat

Excerpts from a Milwaukee Journal article from May 2, 1980

By Oble Yadgar
Special to The Journal

In popular entertainment. the strolling musician Is not only an endangered species but also nearly an acoustic dinosaur, rapidly becoming fossilized by today's electronic music.
He has an appealing voice and, often armed with a guitar and a headful of tunes, has the knack of charming a big circle of listeners.
He will sing your favorite song just for the asking, but if you want to be left alone. he will graciously drift to the next table and sing for someone else. It's pan of the routine. No hard feelings.
That's what serenading is all about, and that's what Dick Hardin does best.

Song-filled life

Hardin has poured out tune after tune in one place or another for most or his me, and If you ask him about it. he'll say, "I have wanted to do nothing else but play the guitar and sing.'
While bands of other musicians have drifted in and out of local clubs,the Beyond the Reef restaurant has been Hardin's strolling ground for the past 14 years.
Hardin, a husky gent with a warm way and easy manner, entertains at the restaurant, 17160 North Ave., Friday and Saturday nights from 8 to midnight. He charms the American-Continental and Polynesian menu with a causal fare of popular. country and Hawaiian tunes, as well as some ethnic numbers and a few selections of the blues.
"Lara's Theme," "Blue Hawaii." and "Your cheatin' Heart" barely brush the surface ot a long list or songs Hardin serves throughout the evening. Requests fill another tall order.


That is not to say the baritone doesn't get help some nights. Occasionally Beyond the Reef owner Frank Schuster clears his pipes for a duet with Hardin. They sing nostalgic rounds of Mills Brothers' tunes. Hardin's wife, Delores, is another partner for occasional duets.

The more the merrier

Schuster's wife, Norma, occasionally breaks out In a few solos, too. With Hardin's capable guitar backing. she builds a romantic mood from standard favorites such as "You Made Me Love You." "It Had to Be You." and "After the Lovin'."
The combinations work well enough to please both the young and the Old. He works for that. Hardin said.
"It gives me a kick that I can entertain young people. I know that I can entertain those from the World War II era. It's the young people that give me a real charge."
Nightly. a few of the tunes are bound to get extra play. But even so, Hardin believes in giving them a fresh coat each time.
"I'm not a clock-watcher filling time," he explained. "If I have to do 'Hawaiian Wedding Song' 10 times, I'd like to do the 10th one as well as the first one.

The next article puts the creation of the "Sneaky Tiki" cocktail around March of 1967. It doesn't say Judge's, but so far the posted Judge's mug is the only mug directly associated with the restaurant. This does conflict with my idea that the ownership changed based on the January 21st 1966 ad above. The Judges must have initiated dropping their name from the title - maybe to make the restaurant more sell-able.

Here's an article from March 18th, 1973 Milwaukee Journal.

....and one from the April 19, 1974 Milwaukee Sentinel

This also brings up why it's kind of hard to find out info on both the "Leilani" and "Beyond the Reef". The Milwaukee Journal & Milwaukee Sentinel were both owned by the same company, the Journal an evening paper and more hard news/in depth orientated, and the Sentinel morning lighter/quick scan fare. Small business news, press releases, etc., were carried in gossip/human interest/dining out sections sporadically because Brookfield was a suburb of Milwaukee and not part of the metro culture. Even though there were positive mentions early on, I have to think there was some element of either editorial snobbery or some outside influences dismissing the Polynesian craze that kept writers in check.....i suppose that's true all over.

I love the menu. It makes the place real for me when I can picture people going there and deciding what to order.

The matchbook at the top of this thread puts the restaurant at 16590 W. North Avenue, while everything else in the thread has it at 17160 W. North Avenue. Can anyone explain the discrepancy? I doubt the restaurant moved because all the materials seem to agree it was located on W. North Avenue at Calhoun Road. Could the numbering scheme for W. North Avenue have changed at some point in time? What a hassle that would have been for everyone on that road.

Interesting on the address change, although I have seen that before. The souvenir drink also changed from the "Sneaky Tiki" on the older menu posted by Meega to the "Coco Moko" on the menu posted by Pa'akiki. A hint at Tiki de-evolution there.

Some more TTT on the menu cover with the hut graphic borrowed from the Trader Vic's at the Savoy in New York.


On 2011-09-07 21:45, Dustycajun wrote:
Some more TTT on the menu cover with the hut graphic borrowed from the Trader Vic's at the Savoy in New York.

Ha! That's great! You must have an incredible collection of artifacts Dustycajun, and it's great because it allows you to make connections like that. Why, you've completely shredded that menu clearly showing a little bit was borrowed from here and another little bit was borrowed from there. Great fun.

Another menu type recently sold on ebay. Nice cover.


As all Tiki places seemed to do at the end of the day, Judge's went to the Buffet.


A very nice oversized postcard

And a matchbook that confirms the Log Cabin origins of Judges Beyond the Reef!

(images from ebay)


meega posted on Fri, Mar 22, 2013 8:17 AM

This Disney Hawaiian just turned up on ebay, and the similarity in design to the old Judge's Beyond the Reef Restaurant is a little more than coincidental. There's no date on the shirt, but Judge's opened in 1958. I don't know when their renovation took place, but I went there in '59 or '60 and it was completed.

Design copying apparently wasn't just the little fish copying the big fish....I'm sure someone at Disney thought "who'd notice this little out-of-the-way hula shack?"

The previous matchbook posting must have been from when the Judge's first bought the place, which was originally a country dance hall.....interesting.

I didn't notice until after I posted this that the two curved verticals between Mickey & Donald seem to be the two palms from the matchbook cover, but with the fronds cut off above the roof.

[ Edited by: meega 2013-03-22 08:23 ]

[ Edited by: meega 2013-03-22 08:27 ]

Great find meega. That Disney would copy another's graphics is amazing but that they would copy a log cabin polynesian graphic is astounding! Where else in tikidom can one find the two themes together? Did the early British and European Hawaiian settlers build log cabins?

[ Edited by: TropicDrinkBoy 2013-03-22 08:43 ]

Likely the designer copied the image from page 60 of the BOT - a trusted Tiki image resource for the last 13 years :)

meega posted on Fri, Mar 22, 2013 9:12 AM

You're probably right about copying from the BOT. It's Disney's iron-grip on their trademark/copyright/intellectual property rights that adds a dash of irony to this piece.

And, while it seems cool at first glance, it's a pretty loveless patch-together job.

meega posted on Fri, Mar 22, 2013 3:15 PM

Something "Star Wars" fans have to look forward to.

What the What??? I can't believe the Disney empire would stoop so low as to copy from the BOT without copyrights and so on...

A different menu cover from our folks at Judges.


Now dat's boootiful! DC, it's usually the desk job level designers that do those things: Quick and dirty, nobody will notice as long as the product gets delivered.


This menu design matches the matchbook design on page one, which has an alpha-numeric phone number & no zip code. They stopped using that style phone # around here in the 60's......zip codes started in '63. This was probably one of their first as a true Polynesian style restaurant, and like I said I was there in '59 or '60 and that Hawaiian warrior with headdress always stuck in my mind(as kinda goofy actually).

It always reminded me of Korla Pandit, master of the Exotica organ:


Here's another Judge's Tiki mug. Similar "R R" markings on the bottom as the mug on the first page of this thread. However, this one does not say Judges anywhere on it but it came with a matchbook which pretty much well confirms its authenticity. The two mugs do make a pretty solid case that this was indeed a Tiki mug from Judge's Beyond the Reef.

On 2010-11-04 18:09, Dustycajun wrote:

So, Brookfield, Wisconsin had two Tiki joints, Beyond the Reef and the famous Leilani.

Beyond the Reef, Leilani, and Bali Hai.


Bali Hai in Brookfield, Waukesha County; not Milwaukee County. Perhaps moderator fix.

Palm trees at Beyond the Reef as pictured on matchbook cover; metal poles wrapped in burlap and cement to simulate bark with metal fronds. Very convincing effect as life palm trees not until 1966 and thirteen miles distant at Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory in tropical dome.



Here is a photo of Judge's from the mid to late 60's.

Nice and clean. Love the artificial palm tress.

Here's a photo from May 1959. Mom and Dad's wedding reception.

[ Edited by: 2coolhipdude 2018-01-15 15:47 ]

There was also this picture of a fountain.

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