Koz’s Mini Bowl (2078 S. 7th St) is a quintessential Southside Milwaukee dive-bar: a kitschy, comfortable, cozy throwback situated on the corner of Becher and 7th, it’s the kind of joint you go to when you want to get away from the modern hipsters or the over-coiffed Taylor’s crowd. Wall décor is big on neon […]
Koz’s Mini Bowl (2078 S. 7th St) is a quintessential Southside Milwaukee dive-bar: a kitschy, comfortable, cozy throwback situated on the corner of Becher and 7th, it’s the kind of joint you go to when you want to get away from the modern hipsters or the over-coiffed Taylor’s crowd. Wall décor is big on neon beer signs, stuffed taxidermy of questionable quality, and old farm implements. The old corner juke-box has enough predictable classics and popular tunes to please most Milwaukeeans and was the only means of background noise besides the Brewer’s game broadcast on a pair of flat-screen TV’s.
Bring plenty of quarters—you get three songs for $1.
The bar was fairly dead the Thursday night we visited, and the owner/bartender was playing pool when we arrived, and seemed to know everyone who walked through the door by name–except us). I ordered a vodka cranberry, and half-way through the pour, the bartender had to ask his buddy to run to the corner store to buy more juice. Normally a $6 rail, I was charged half-that. The second round, with juice in-house? $6. In short, you ain’t comin’ here for the drinks or the chic style. Koz’s offers a lot of things, but classy and upscale it ain’t.
The appeal of Koz’s is in the wood paneling and cheap beer, the instant feel of being amongst good friends you just hadn’t met yet, and of course, the joy that comes from throwing strike after strike on the duck-pin bowling lanes ($3 per person per game + tips). It’s an experience unlike traditional bowling and it doesn’t take much muscle or skill, though you do need to score yourself. There’s nothing automatic at Koz’s except the feeling of satisfaction that inevitably comes over patrons once they let loose.
At $3 a game it’s a cheap thrill, but don’t forget to bring a few singles to tip the pinsetters with. They manually return the bowling balls and set-up each frame for you, which feels weird at first. I’d rate the awkwardness of employing personal pinsetters on par with hiring a rickshaw cyclist to toodle you and your lazy compatriots around the city at night instead of hoofin’ it. There exists at the beginning of each experience a sort of “feeling out” process. I learned quickly that I had nothing to feel bad about. The teenage boys were funny and quite happy to make a quick buck, with the added benefit of titillating cleavage. There was a palpable modicum of anticipation every time my friend or I pitched forward to bowl on the dwarfed lanes.
Koz’s is a unique bar experience that has a very laid-back, blue-collar Milwaukee feel to it. According to the Journal-Sentinel, rumor has it that back in the 40’s, suspicious neighbors disapproved of the caliber of women the bar housed and the way husbands flocked there, so four duck-pin bowling lanes were added in back to appease gossip-mongers wondering about its broad appeal. That seedy feel still remains, though patrons are apt to find it endearing and fun in this 2010 world of chain-restaurants, cloned sheep, and $12 martinis.
About the Author
A native Milwaukeean, Amylia Grace is an internationally published poet and English/writing instructor who has returned to Milwaukee after a life of raucous debauchery overseas. In addition to teaching, Amylia is an online columnist for Health Central and a veteran blogger on Diabetes Daily. Find her at amyliagrace.blogspot.com.
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