Sophie Bolich

Riverwest’s Falcon Bowl Will Get Upgrades

New operators plan modern, retro refresh for 140-year old bar and bowling alley.

By - May 2nd, 2023 11:19 am
The interior redesign at Falcon Bowl, 801 E. Clarke St., has a mid-century modern style. Rendering courtesy of Falcon Bowl.

The interior redesign at Falcon Bowl, 801 E. Clarke St., has a mid-century modern style. Rendering courtesy of Falcon Bowl.

The new operators at Falcon Bowl on Tuesday revealed plans for a series of enhancements to the 140-year-old establishment, located at 801-803 E. Clarke St., in Riverwest.

Changes will include aesthetic improvements — with a mid-century modern theme — as well as practical additions such as air conditioning, a website and upgraded registers with the ability to process credit card payments.

The bar will maintain its “everyman feel,” operators Daniel Gnadt, William Desing and Russell Grabczyk assured patrons — just with a bit more style. The three are leasing the bar and bowling alley from from Riverwest Investment Cooperative, which purchased the place in 2022.

“We love what the Falcon Bowl represents and its place in the Riverwest neighborhood,” Gnadt said. “We’re embracing its history and authenticity and are actually using the bowling alley as our design template.”

The six-lane basement bowling alley, one of the oldest in America, features 1950s pink and white bank seating, mod-shaped scoring tables and a vintage diamond motif, all of which will remain untouched throughout the refresh. In fact, designer Matthew Kerr has garnered inspiration from the style, and plans to mirror its retro details in other areas of Falcon Bowl.

The upstairs bar will be outfitted with the same pink, white and green color scheme, including pink and green checkerboard floors. Orange Naugahyde stick-legged chairs will add a pop of contrasting color to the main bar area. An additional side lounge and bar will be carved out of the existing space.

Period light fixtures and throwback, bowling-related decor would complete the redesign.

When it comes to the bar’s menu, operators said they plan to round out the beverage list with additional Milwaukee-brewed beers, but have no plans at this time to offer food.

The banquet hall is also slated for significant upgrades including an enlarged stage, a new bar and the addition of air conditioning. Metal ceiling tiles — a relic of the 1960s — will be removed to reveal the original wood ceiling, which would then be enhanced with chandeliers.

Throughout the years, Falcon Bowl has accumulated five types of mismatched ceiling paneling, operators said. The refresh aims to standardize the decor, lending a cohesive and polished feel to the bar.

Outside, a former storage space will be cf2022onverted into a 1,100-square-foot patio and beer garden.

“When people ask if we have big plans for Falcon Bowl, our answer is we plan to honor what’s already been established,” Gnadt said. “We don’t want to mess with an institution that so many people already know and love.”

The refresh began in April and is expected to conclude by mid-June. A grand reveal and celebration is planned to follow on June 24.

Falcon Bowl will operate as usual throughout the redesign. The business also has a brand new website, where guests can shop for merch, book a private event, access the newsletter or find information on bowling leagues.

The three new operators took control of the bar after former operator Lynn Okopinski retired earlier this year.

“I was rooting for Dan to be the next operator,” said Okopinski, a long-time Riverwest resident who has been with Falcon Bowl since 1982. “He’s a bowling guy and that’s the kind of person who should be running the place.”

Falcon Bowl is open Tuesday through Saturday from 4 p.m. to bar close.


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