Located at 412 N River Street (Hwy 63) in Spooner, Wisconsin, Kegler's Pub & Pin is housed in a building with a history all its own. Some old timers in Spooner say that Al Capone once hid his car in the lower level during the Prohibition Era. Others say it was a parking ramp of sorts for local residents who paid for the privilege of parking there, especially in the winter when the first Model T's didn't start in cold weather.
Previous owner Craig Solum, however, says the building's history is more mundane than that. It was built by Peterson Brothers Construction Company in the first part of the 20th Century, and it contains the same architectural features as several other Peterson buildings in Spooner, including vehicle-sized loading ramps that go below grade and graceful pillars that hold amazing spans of concrete.
"Originally the building was the Allen Gas & Oil Shell Station," explains Solum, a respected real estate appraiser who still lives and works in Spooner. "Then Hedlunds bought it and it became Hedlund Gas. In old pictures, you can see where cars pulled in to fill up, and if they needed repairs, they were driven down the ramp in front to the repair shop."
Today the lower level is fully enclosed and houses business offices, a chiropractic office, and a custom frame shop and art gallery, also owned by the current owners of Kegler's Pub & Pin.
Not until 1975 did the building have an upper level. When the second, or ground flloor, was built, the bowling lanes and AMF Pinspotter machines were installed.
"That's when [local real estate broker] Nick Masterjohn owned the building and John and Joy Newman established Northern Lites Lanes on the upper floor. John loved to bowl, and he and Joy already owned Paradise Lanes in Racine, Wisconsin. Whenever they visited their second home on Big McKenzie Lake, they had nowhere to bowl. There were only two lanes in Spooner back then--under the old liquor store downtown. So he and Joy opened Northern Lites Lanes," tells Solum.
"When John and Joy decided to build a bowling center," continues Solum,"they bought used pinspotter machines from a bowling alley in Japan. In 1975, those machines were already 2 years old. At the time they were state-of-the-art. Today, because the machines are mechanical and not electrical, parts can still be replaced. Those machines are still setting pins today."
The business remained with John and Joy Newman until first John and then Joy passed away. She willed the bowling center and a local supper club [Club 70, now called Tracks] to two friends, one of whom was Craig Solum. Later Solum sold the center to its manager, and it was renamed in 1996.
Over the next 10 years, the owner at the time updated the scoring from manual to automatic, remodeled the bar area, and installed new ball returns. In 2006, the center was sold to current owners Andrew Licata and JoAnn Martin, a local husband-and-wife team who have devoted their careers to the profession of bowling.
"We love everything about bowling," says Licata, who admits he has gone from being a non-bowler to a league bowler, a mechanic, a pro shop operator, and a USBC certified coach. "I bowl in two to four leagues in any given year," he continues, "and my wife bowls at least once a week. We love the sport and the people."
To reach Andrew or JoAnn, please call 715-635-8706 or e-mail us.
Andrew Licata and JoAnn Martin, owners