Sophie Bolich

Landmark Lanes Holds 95th Anniversary

The return of 'The Big Lebowski' as the East Side mainstay hosts week-long celebration in September.

By - Aug 24th, 2022 05:44 pm
Landmark Lanes. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Landmark Lanes. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

In celebration of 95 years in business, Landmark Lanes will throw a week-long bash featuring the movie, The Big Lebowski, comedy shows, game night and more.

The celebration is scheduled to run from Sept. 26 to Sept. 30 at Landmark Lanes, 2220 N. Farwell Ave.

Also known as the Underground City, Landmark Lanes is a 24,200-square-foot labyrinth containing three bars, a 16-lane bowling alley, 10 pool tables, darts, foosball tables, an entertainment stage and innumerable arcade games.

Festivities will kick off Monday, Sept. 26 with a game night featuring classic arcade games with a twist, plus a pool competition and a Magic: The Gathering tournament. Midwest Gaming Classic will run the event, which is free and open to the public.

Tuesday, Sept. 27, Milwaukee Comedy duo J Tyler Menz and Tim Higgins will host Voyager in the Back Bar, a blend of stand-up and improv. The event will feature comedians from across the Midwest. Tickets are $15 each and available for purchase here.

Lakefront Brewery will carry out a mid-week takeover of all taps in The Back Bar on Wednesday, Sept. 28. The brewery will showcase its most popular beers and new seasonal beers. There will also be Lakefront giveaways throughout the night and a stein hoist (Masskrug) competition. Two firkins of new seasonal beer will be made special for the event, which is free and open to the public.

On Thursday, Sept. 29, Milwaukee Film will present Lebowski Night. Guests will start the evening at the Oriental Theatre, located above Landmark Lanes in the same building, for a screening of The Big Lebowski. Following the film, guests can head downstairs for a Lebowski-themed karaoke in the Moon Room. Lakefront Brewery will also return with complimentary pours of a Lebowski-inspired brew.

Tickets for the film ($12 each for general admission) are available here. A limited number of VIP tickets are available for $99. The VIP experience directly follows the movie screening and includes a reserved lane with unlimited bowling for up to five people for one hour, two pitchers of a beer of choice and a Landmark Swag Bag with commemorative anniversary merch and gifts from Landmark Lanes sponsors.

Customer Appreciation Night will round out the week’s festivities. Friday, Sept. 30, reps will hand out samples of Bacardi Rum and New Glarus, as well as swag throughout the night. Complimentary Ian’s Pizza will be available for guests to the free event.

Originally opened in 1927 under the name Bensinger’s Recreation, Landmark Lanes has been a fixture of Milwaukee’s East Side since before the Great Depression. Two brothers gave the facility its current name when they purchased it in 1972. Under their ownership, the establishment thrived as “Pritchett’s Jazz Oasis” thanks to George Pritchett, a third brother and nationally known jazz guitarist who drew fans to the place, as Urban Milwaukee previously reported.

In its nearly century-long run, Landmark Lanes has played host to notable visitors including Ringo Starr, Norah Jones, Kelly Clarkson, David Byrne, Todd Rundgren, Gloria Steinem and Ted Nugent.

Milwaukee real estate developer New Land Enterprises acquired the building, which also houses the Oriental Theatre, in 2002.

This past February, the building was designated a National Historic Landmark. The designation came as the structure undergoes a series of renovations this year “to bring it back to its original glory while respecting its history,” said a press release from the operation. A new marquee, renovated bars, hand-painted signs by Milwaukee Sign Painter, new arcade games and other upgrades will be unveiled before the upcoming festivities.

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