Kris Stuckert represents the fourth generation to work in his family’s business, Holler House, which is a tavern and the oldest certified bowling alley in the United States. (It’s still tended by human pin setters.)
Holler House was opened by Stuckert’s great grandfather in 1908. Stuckert’s grandmother, Marcy, is in her late eighties and she still works at the bar a few hours a week.
We recently stopped in Holler House on a Tuesday night to chat with Stuckert about cribbage, family, why there are so many bras hanging from the ceiling and, of course, bowling.
OnMilwaukee.com: So how long have you worked here? Since you were born?
Kris Stuckert: Yeah, basically. I started pinsetting at 12 and I have been bar tending for eight years.
OMC: How was pinsetting? Ever get a bowling ball to the head or anything like that?
KS: No, it’s pretty safe as long as you pay attention.
OMC: What’s the deal with the bras hanging from the ceiling?
KS: It’s a tradition my grandma started a long time ago. Sometimes when girls come in here for the first time, they take ‘em off and they write on them and have whoever they’re here with sign them and then they leave ‘em.
OMC: Do any of the bras belong to your grandma?
KS: I don’t know. I don’t want to know.
OMC: Does Holler House have cribbage night every Tuesday?
KS: Yes, it’s pretty popular. (Nods to almost full bar.) Wednesday night is a social night here, too. A lot of people come in from all over to hang out.
OMC: What types of drinks do you sell the most of here?
KS: Beer. Miller.
OMC: This popcorn is really good. Salty, buttery. Do you always have bowls of this popcorn here?
KS: A lot of the time we do. My grandma always makes it.
OMC: How would you describe your grandma?
KS: I don’t know. She’s a good grandma. She’s funny and energetic.
OMC: She still works here, right?
KS: Oh, yeah. She’ll come in and open up at 4 p.m. and hang out until the bartender gets here.
OMC: What’s her favorite cocktail?
KS: A vodka tonic.
OMC: Hey, that’s what I’m drinking.
KS: I noticed.
OMC: So how often do you have open bowling?
KS: Six days a week. You have to call ahead for at least four people and it’s $5 per game. You have to call ahead so we can have the pin boys here.
OMC: Who are pinsetters these days? Where do they come from?
KS: They are usually a friend or family member of someone in the bar.
OMC: Can kids bowl here?
KS: Yeah, I guess.
OMC: What’s the deal? Not thrilled with kid bowlers?
KS: A lot of times they can’t make the ball down the alley and then the pin boy has to jump out and get it. They can bowl here with parents.
OMC: Are the photos on the wall of family members?
KS: Yeah. I think that’s my aunt’s baby picture. And that’s my grandma, in the dress.
OMC: Where did the name "Holler House" come from?
KS: The story goes that some guy and a lady were in here, and she was from out of town. The night they were here it was really busy – the piano was playing and the music was going and people were having a really good time. It was loud. So the next time she came back to town, she said she wanted to go to "that holler house." And he told the story to my great grandfather and it stuck. Or something like that.
OMC: Did you grow up in Milwaukee?
KS: I did. I went to Oconomowoc for high school, but then I moved back to the city. Now I live in Franklin.
OMC: What do you like to do when you’re not working?
KS: Sports. And we just had a baby. A boy, Elijah. He’s almost a year old.
OMC: That’s a beautiful name.
OMC: How’s fatherhood so far?
KS: It’s fun.
OMC: Maybe he’ll be the fifth generation to work at the Holler House.
KS: Maybe. We’ll see.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.