Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Koz’s Mini-Bowl – Milwaukee, WI

D.Rough and I were in Milwaukee (one of my favorite cities in the US) for the 2013 World Championships of Roller Derby. Our friends CorpseKitten and TheLatvian from Kalamazoo, Michigan, also met us in Milwaukee for a weekend hangout and we had a great weekend. I had heard about this “mini bowling” alley from a few websites and thought we’d make a double date out of it. I had a very rough idea of what was going to happen in this particular bar on the South side of Minneapolis, but the other three were going in blindly, and only trusting me a little bit on this one. Probably smart on their part.

As we drove past what the GPS told us was the address, D.Rough sounded dubious – “this looks like someone’s house…” I retorted, “But there’s a beer sign in the window!” TheLatvian replied, “This is Wisconsin. Everyone has a beer sign in their window.” Fair enough. But, we went in anyway.

I’m soooooo glad we did. The place is dimly let, but in a home-y way, not a seedy scary way. And it IS NOT a house – it’s an actual bar. There’s a full bar, a pool table, a juke box in the front room. And in the back room is the bowling. Duckpin bowling to be precise.

My father taught me about duckpin and candlepin bowling when I was a kid – my family has a pretty serious bowling legacy (I’m not kidding). If it helps you visualize it, take a standard bowling pin and squash it down about half way, so it’s short and fat. Duckpin bowling is traditionally a west coast thing, but they’re also in Milwaukee and Indianapolis. You throw a small bowling ball with no finger holes (about like a softball or bocce ball) and it’s an extra short lane – about 20 feet.

Picture skee-ball, but with pins.

The guy behind the bar was super nice, which we appreciated as first-timers. He told us a lane was actually open and ready to rock. He grabbed us a score sheet, told us how much the games were each, and reminded us to tip the pinsetters. There are actual human pin setters that kick the pins out of the way after each frame or reset up the pins in a triangle format. Manually. None of this automated machinery stuff. Then, the bartender recommended some drinks. I knew I liked this guy.

Two bonuses at Koz’s: they don’t have low ball glasses. Mixed drinks are in a pint glass, the way I make them at home. Also, the mug of beer I ordered was $1.50. Thank you, Wisconsin!!!

I’d love to tell you how awesome this evening was, but it’s difficult. It’s super fast paced and there’s lots of mocking and high-fives. Plus the awesome juke box kept getting stocked with awesome 80’s and 90’s music. You can ask the bartender what the standard tip is for the pinsetters, since these guys are dodging balls and pins flying around behind their protective shield. Dangerous and back-breaking work, for sure. But waaaay more fun than standard bowling, in my opinion.

And did I mention this place has a taxidermy lion and other creepy taxidermy??? BAM!

You really need to check this place out. They are open until bar close so around 2am, which is even better. I think you can call ahead and reserve a lane if you want, but we rolled right in on a Saturday night and got an open lane. Perfect night.

[Note: I found out we were supposed to be throwing three balls per frame, but we only threw two like standard bowling. Bummer for me, since I would have bowled higher than the 238 I bowled!]


Anonymous said...

I don't know why I care, but I have questions. If you wouldn't mind, please. :-)

How did that work out with the pin setter if you're supposed to throw 3 but you were only throwing two? Do you activate some sort of signaling mechanism to let him know you need all 10 reset? Is there a different signal if you need a pin cleared as opposed to resetting? Did you tell the bartender about your mini triathlon? How much does a round of mini bowling cost if drafts are $1.50? Did you have to rent shoes? Are there different sizes/weights of balls?

Thanks in advance!

Chao said...

No worries at all on the questions - they're all good. I think the pin setter saw when the first person sat down and then the next person stood up. Probably picked up on it pretty quickly. (Though it might be worth an ask at the bar if it's two or three throws per frame.)

I did not mention the .10K triathlon, but I probably talk about that too much anyway.

I think the games are $3 per person.

You don't have to rent shoes - you can wear your own. There isn't a slide factor at all. Remember, it's like skee-ball, so you stand there and whip it hard at the pins.

All the balls are pretty much the same weight. Light enough even a child could throw it and have fun. But heavy enough to knock down pins when thrown with any force at all.

I hope that helps!

Anonymous said...

Excellent! Thanks for answering my questions. I totally want to find some reason to go to Milwaukee now to go mini bowling. Sounds like incredible amounts of fun!

Anonymous said...

duckpins is an eastern state thing. it ariginated in Balimore and the lanes are the same size as tenpins. this center is just an oddity