It was our first visit to Coach’s Pub & Grill, 5356 S. 13th St., and quite possibly under the best possible circumstances: The Brewers had just swept the Reds and there was a special on wings (more on that later).
The large, three-sided bar was full, as were most of the tables in the dining area, but we managed to grab seats just under a massive flatscreen TV airing highlights from the game.
Corne Hanssen purchased Coach’s in 1999, and exactly a year ago opened a second location, Coach’s On the Lake, in the former DeMarinis Danoon Saloon in Muskego. Hanssen also owned The Newport in Bay View from 1988 to 2003.
Coach’s is a comfortable, welcoming, no-frills, classic-South-Side-Milwaukee sports tavern with excellent bar fare food, most of which is made from scratch.
"We are a neighborhood sports bar with really good food," says Hanssen. "Quality food, made from scratch has always been a priority for me, along with reasonable drink prices – and sports."
The extensive menu features customer favorites like the broasted chicken and wings – both of which are made with fresh, unfrozen chicken – along with pizzas with scratch-made crusts and the Big Boy Burger that’s almost identical to the sandwich from the beloved Big Boy restaurant chain.
"I have customers who come from West Bend just for the Big Boy burger," says Hanssen.
Coach’s also offers a lightly-battered fish fry that’s available on Fridays as well as Wednesdays during Lent.
Aside from the food, Coach's Pub & Grill has nine televisions, outdoor seating and volleyball courts.
During our visit, we had to try the Big Boy Burger and chose sour cream and chive fries. There are six or seven different sides to chose from, including three kinds of fries, homemade soup, salad or onion rings. The Big Boy was exactly what we hoped it would be, down to the very last sesame seed on the bun. And for $7.95 it was an incredibly good deal.
The teenaged boy with us wanted to try the Grave Digger Burger Challenge, which offers to pay for the $29.95 meal if someone can finish the 2-pound burger topped with a pound of bacon in 60 minutes. To do this, a call ahead is necessary, so maybe next time. Sorry, teenaged boy.
We also tried the aforementioned wing deal and got 10 large, boneless with honey and BBQ for $8.
Although tempted by the broasted chicken – which Hanssen suggested during the interview – we decided to choose a more adventuresome item and got the chicken and waffle sandwich. This includes a breaded chicken breast between thin, toasted waffles and topped with cheese, bacon and maple mayo on the side (yes, please!). This came with a choice of sides for $9.95.
Food is also available for carry-out. There’s also a "Little Sluggers" section offering kids’ meals.
Hanssen, who grew up in Bay View and graduated from Marquette High School, was a letter carrier for 32 years. He met a lot of people over the years on his mail route, some of whom are customers today.
"If you treat people right, they come back to you," says Hanssen.
Hanssen is also a long-time supporter of local sports and sponsors softball, bowling and little leagues teams.
"We’re a neighborhood bar, but because we’re close to the airport, we also get people from all over the place," says Hanssen.
Coach's is open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. (2:30 Friday and Saturday). Kitchen hours are Monday-Friday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Dine-in and carry-out available.
Molly Snyder grew up on Milwaukee's East Side and today, she lives in the Walker's Point neighborhood with her partner and two sons.
As a full time senior writer, editorial manager and self-described experience junkie, Molly has written thousands of articles about Milwaukee (and a few about New Orleans, Detroit, Indianapolis, Boston and various vacation spots in Wisconsin) that range in subject from where to get the best cup of coffee to an in-depth profile on the survivors of the iconic Norman apartment building that burned down in the '90s.
She also once got a colonic just to report on it, but that's enough on that.
Always told she had a "radio voice," Molly found herself as a regular contributor on FM102, 97WMYX and 1130WISN with her childhood radio favorite, Gene Mueller.
Molly's poetry, essays and articles appeared in many publications including USA Today, The Writer, The Sun Magazine and more. She has a collection of poetry, "Topless," and is slowly writing a memoir.
In 2009, Molly won a Milwaukee Press Club Award. She served as the Narrator / writer-in-residence at the Pfister Hotel from 2013-2014. She is also a story slam-winning storyteller who has performed with The Moth, Ex Fabula and Risk!
When she's not writing, interviewing or mom-ing, Molly teaches tarot card classes, gardens, sits in bars drinking Miller products and dreams of being in a punk band again.