My first job out of college was in La Crosse, a beautiful burg perched aside the Mississippi on the border of Wisconsin and Minnesota. My colleagues were mostly of the same age, except for one older guy, native, occasional mentor, occasional director of our attention to non-work activities even though we were on the clock.
We had three rendezvous spots. One was called Rex’s Ye Old Style Inn, a neighborhood bar and grill, some dump bar out in the country, a name I don’t remember, but they did have one of those steel puck/bowling arcade games with the sawdust on the table. The third spot was way up on top of the bluffs that ring La Crosse, and I guess it’s always been called the Alpine Inn, since it opened in the 20s, but we called it “Uncle Miltie’s” after the affable proprietor.
Milt had a way of getting you completely loaded when you weren’t looking. In winter, the poison was a “Snowshoe Grog,” equal parts of Peppermint Schnapps and Brandy. Yeah, I know. Made all the more perilous while trying to navigate your way back down the winding road to town.
After work, it was the “Night Club,” downtown, for happy hour that had enough free food out to eliminate the need to purchase dinner. (Hey, we were young, single, and broke-ish)!
Later, dancing at the Macamba Club nearly every night. Another colleague employed as record spinner. Me and the guys monopolizing the waitresses’ time. Easily. Often.
So that was about forty years ago. (WTF?). I was rolling through La Crosse last week and decided to stop at Milt’s. Milt’s long gone, but the Alpine Inn rocks on, and has a full food menu, as opposed to back in my day when eats consisted of pickled eggs and cheese popcorn.
I went with a 1/3 pound beef burger, topped with slivered ham and swiss, and accompanied by beer battered rings. It was a good burger. The rings were OK, not spectacular. $9.25.
There is some video poker and pull tabs these days. The Alpine Inn operates on a cash only basis. There’s a massive outdoor deck for pleasant weather embibers. and a field for volleyball or whatever. A lot of people apparently bike up the bluff, or come up by some means of transport and hike down.
Bully for them.
Alpine Inn’s menu includes appetizers, soups, salad, burgers, sandwiches and pizza. I hear the grilled cheese is a winner. Must be cheese from those happy cows in Wisconsin.
Alpine Inn Review