Brass Horn Pub & Grillinside Sussex Bowl
N64 W24576 Main St., Sussex, WI 53089, 262-246-6808
Originally Brass Horn Pub & Grill, Sussex Bowl offers something for almost every age, whether you want to hit one of the 16 bowling lanes, have a drink with your friends, check out the arcade, or simply go out for a fish fry on the weekend.
Sussex Bowl: A place for more than just strikes and spares
Chris Powers (left) and Sussex Bowl owner Stephen Hoehnen pose behind the bar/restaurant that serves food seven days a week. Powers said he cooks how he likes food to taste. He's lucky enough that customers agree. Sussex Bowl is known for its Friday night fish fry, which Powers has put his personal touches on. Photo by: By Heather Krisman,
For the novice bowler, bowling a turkey, or three strikes in a row, is a rarity. Now, finding a good turkey sandwich is commonplace at Sussex Bowl where Chris Powers, restaurant manager, pushes the limits of typical bar food.
"Everything I cook, I cook it the way I like it and I serve it the way I like," explained Powers from inside the dining room. "I definitely get fair amount of objection from time to time, but the majority has been in my favor the entire time. People tend to like what I like."
Powers takes common foods like buffalo wings and fish frys and, to quote celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse: He kicks it up a notch.
Powers joined Sussex Bowl several years ago to help then-owner Guy Starz turn his struggling restaurant around.
"I came and took his menu and changed it around. Got rid of the all-you-can-eat, repriced some stuff. Got rid of a few menu items. Worked with his staff briefly," he said.
"It worked out. It started making money again," said Powers, who at first was a contractor, then became a full-fledged employee. He worked for Starz for two months and then the business was sold to Kim Starz, and Nicholas and Stephen Hoehnen.
"They seemed really awesome. They wanted me to stay," explained Powers. "We worked out a deal, and I love it. It's great. It's my hometown. I love being in a place where I can meet so many people."
Powers, 28, is a 2000 graduate of Hamilton High School. "I may not run into my friends, but I do run into all of their parents," joked Powers.
One menu item that underwent a series of modifications was Sussex Bowl's fish fry.
"I got a lot of rejection at first. Sussex Bowl had a very successful fish fry," he said. But, it was a fish fry that you could get anywhere, so Powers tweaked it. He added fresh lemon zest into the coating, which allows for crispier fish since lemon juice isn't squeezed on. He created a homemade tartar sauce and the cole slaw is sweet with a little spice.
"I have people coming here and ordering it in tubs for parties at their homes. It's crazy," he said.
The cole slaw flavor plays on the tartar sauce. He said that building his Friday fish fry is about developing flavors, which is also why he puts garlic in his potato pancakes. "It's all about working together."
On Friday, Sussex Bowl pays homage to its previous owners and serves fresh chocolate chip cookies with every meal; but only on Fridays.
"If they remember anything, they'll remember the cookie," he added.
Knowing what customers want is one of Powers' superpowers, but there have been menu items that have, well, flopped.
His biggest was an 8 ounce flat-iron steak, which was served with onions, portabella mushrooms and choice of potato.
Also, a few of his wing sauces haven't taken flight - blackberry barbeque and smoky raspberry are no longer on the menu.
"(It's) probably one of the coolest sauces I've come up with. It had a fresh raspberry puree and balsamic vinegar.
"Everything I've developed, and there is a lot now, is trial and error. A lot of mistakes. A lot of error. This didn't work out. Oops, I burnt that. This tastes terrible. I've always had ideas. When I can get my idea in my head onto the plate and it tastes right, it seems to work pretty well."
Those errors have helped create some of Sussex Bowl's best-selling items: pizza, buffalo wings and the Friday fish fry. The top-selling buffalo wing sauces include honey barbeque, hot and honey, and spicy Asian mix named "Sam" - after Power's friend.
Powers stumbled into the restaurant world. He took a part-time cook job right out of high school.
"I lied to get it. I told them that I knew how to cook. That kind of started the whole process."
From there, Powers worked at the grill at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
"I watched exactly what they did. The good thing with the food business is that you have to make the food the same - everyone in the kitchen. They come back and want the same thing they had. I knew that coming in. I literally watched and did exactly what they did and what they showed me, and they thought I was some pro. It worked out," he said.
Then Powers worked at the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells, Sloppy Joe's in Hubertus and Bub's Irish Pub, all which helped Powers sharpen his cooking skills, as well as learning food safety and creating flavor profiles. All of which are helping him at Sussex Bowl where he seems to be bowling a pretty good game.